After two-and-a-half years of stringent Covid-19 restrictions, Japan reopened its doors to tourists on Tuesday, with officials hoping a large inflow of travelers lured by a weak yen will boost the economy.
By mid-morning, tourists from Israel, France, and Britain were already arriving in the country.
Japan shut its borders in the early stage of the pandemic, at one point even blocking foreign residents from returning, and has only lately begun reopening in a guarded manner.
In June, it started allowing tourists to visit in groups accompanied by guides.
From Tuesday, it resumed visa-free entry for travelers from 68 countries and territories.
Japan is also lifting a restriction on the number of arrivals and terminating the package tour requirement.
However, tourists are required to submit either proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test taken three days before departure. Masks are prevalent, and though not mandated by law, Parliament is set to pass a law allowing hotels to refuse service to customers who refuse to wear a mask or observe other protocols.
Before Covid-19, Japan’s government was progressing toward achieving a target of 40 million visitors by 2020, the year Tokyo was supposed to host the Summer Olympics.