Post-shutdown Japan travel from approved countries with low COIVD-19 case numbers is set for restart in spring according to weekend press reports.
The Japanese government has flagged a limited re-opening for inbound tourism in spring with strict controls.
These flag key restrictions to include separating transport and accommodation – independent travel (like popular JR Rail Pass snow trips) would not be permitted.
Instead all tourists would have to use dedicated vehicles for transport to and between locations.
Detailed itineraries would have to submitted ahead of arrival.
In hotels and at tourist sights they would use separate areas from other guests/users.
They would have to have negative coronavirus test results as well.
The Japanese government is introducing a system of buses to shuttle international arrivals from Haneda and Narita Airports to some hotels in Tokyo, after earlier requesting visitors not to use public transport and organise their own private transfers/pick-ups. Limited business travel and return for permanent residents has been allowed since September. The shuttle system is set to start on December 16 according to NHK reports.
Countries like Taiwan and China have been mooted to be the first included in any such spring inbound tourism re-opening.
Skiers and boarders from any country that is approved would be dependent on packaged trips to meet the restrictions being available. How “separation from other guests” would work at a ski area in that case is not clear.
Any re-opening of inbound tourism will be a welcome start, but at this stage it is unlikely to mean much for the snow market.
Roll on vaccine roll-outs .. The need for these has already been flagged by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce as a pre-requisite for booking international travel in or out of Australia for example. He said “but certainly, for international visitors coming out [to Australia] and people leaving the country, we think that is a necessity.”
No doubt other airlines will too.