As Japan's tourism rebounds to pre-COVID levels, prospective travellers are left pondering the cost and ideal destinations. Exploring the renewed vibrancy of Japanese tourism, this introduction sets the stage for an insightful exploration of expenses and recommended destinations in the post-pandemic era.
There are a number of reasons why Japan has become more budget-friendly. The most important factor is the depreciating yen.
The depreciating yen is the most significant factor that has made Japan more budget-friendly in recent years. This is because tourists from countries with stronger currencies can now get more yen for their money.
Airfares to Japan have also been falling in recent years, making it easier and more affordable for people to travel to the country. This is due to a number of factors, including the increasing competition between airlines and the growing popularity of budget airlines.
The government has introduced a number of initiatives, such as offering tax breaks to hotels and restaurants that cater to tourists, and providing subsidies for transportation costs. These initiatives have made it easier for tourists to find affordable accommodation and transportation in Japan.
In addition to the depreciating yen and government initiatives, there are a number of other things that tourists can do to save money when visiting Japan. These include:
Staying in budget accommodation: Hostels and guesthouses are often much cheaper than hotels, and they can be a great way to meet other travellers.
Eating at local restaurants: Tourist restaurants are often more expensive than local restaurants. Tourists can save money by eating at local restaurants, which often serve delicious and authentic Japanese food.
Taking advantage of free attractions: Japan has many free attractions, such as parks, temples, and shrines. Tourists can save money by visiting these attractions instead of paying to visit museums and other tourist attractions.
Using public transportation: Public transportation in Japan is very efficient and affordable. Tourists can save money by using public transportation instead of taxis or rental cars.
Travelling during the off-season: Prices for accommodation and transportation are often lower during the off-season, which is typically from November to March.
All COVID-19 travel restrictions for entering Japan have been lifted. However, travellers are still advised to take precautions to protect themselves and others from COVID-19, such as wearing a mask in crowded indoor settings and washing their hands frequently.
Japan's Gradual Easing of Border Measures
Japan was one of the last countries to ease its strict COVID-19 border measures. Visa-free travel for many countries resumed in October 2022, and all remaining controls were lifted in June 2023. This gradual approach was taken in an effort to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases, as Japan had been relatively successful in controlling the spread of the virus throughout the pandemic.
Impact of Eased Restrictions on Tourism
The number of foreign visitors has been increasing since the restrictions were lifted, and many businesses are reporting an uptick in tourist activity. However, the industry is still struggling to reach pre-pandemic levels, as a shortage of hospitality workers and the high cost of travel to Japan continue to pose challenges.
The government is taking a number of steps to support the recovery of the tourism industry, such as:
Providing financial assistance to businesses
Launching a campaign to attract more workers to the hospitality industry
Relaxing visa requirements for some countries
Promoting Japan as a tourism destination
This increase in visitors presents opportunities for economic growth and cultural exchange, it also raises concerns about the impact on the environment, infrastructure, and safety of popular tourist attractions. Mount Fuji, Japan's iconic mountain, stands as a prime example of this delicate balance.
Overcrowding and Environmental Concerns
Mount Fuji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Japan's highest mountain, has seen a significant surge in climbers in recent months. This influx of visitors has raised concerns about environmental damage and the preservation of the mountain's natural beauty. The increased foot traffic is leading to erosion of trails, litter accumulation, and potential damage to delicate vegetation.
Safety Considerations and Infrastructure Strain
The growing crowds at Mount Fuji also pose safety concerns for climbers and the authorities responsible for their well-being. The narrow trails and steep inclines can become congested, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries. Additionally, the limited resources available to manage the influx of visitors put a strain on infrastructure, such as restrooms and emergency services.
Balancing Tourism Growth and Sustainable Development
The resurgence of tourism in Japan presents a unique challenge: how to reap the economic benefits while ensuring the sustainability and preservation of the country's natural and cultural heritage. In the case of Mount Fuji, finding a balance between accommodating visitors and safeguarding the mountain's environment and safety is crucial.
To address the challenges posed by overtourism, various measures can be considered:
Limiting Access: Implementing a system of permits or quotas to control the number of climbers on Mount Fuji could help reduce overcrowding and minimise environmental impact.
Enhancing Infrastructure: Investing in improving trails, restrooms, and emergency services can help manage the increased visitor numbers and ensure the safety of climbers.
Promoting Sustainable Practices: Educating tourists about the importance of responsible behaviour, such as proper waste disposal and respecting natural areas, can help minimise environmental damage.
Encouraging Alternative Destinations: Promoting other scenic attractions in the region could help divert some visitors away from Mount Fuji, reducing the strain on the mountain's resources.
Amidst the vibrant cities and bustling attractions of Japan, lies a hidden gem that beckons travellers seeking a tranquil escape: Iriomote Island.
Natural splendour: Iriomote Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its pristine natural wonders. The island is covered in lush tropical forests, home to an abundance of unique flora and fauna. Visitors can hike through these forests, kayak through mangrove forests, and discover hidden waterfalls.
Untamed landscapes: Iriomote Island's untamed landscapes offer visitors a chance to truly escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Visitors can hike through verdant trails, explore hidden waterfalls, and kayak through serene rivers.
Cultural heritage: Iriomote Island's rich cultural heritage is deeply intertwined with its natural environment. The Iriomote-jima people have lived in harmony with nature for centuries, and visitors can learn about this unique culture by visiting local villages, interacting with the islanders, and experiencing traditional crafts and cuisine.
Haven from overtourism: Iriomote Island's remote location and limited infrastructure have protected it from the impact of overtourism. Visitors can truly connect with nature and experience the island's authentic beauty.
Sustainable tourism: By choosing Iriomote Island as a travel destination, travellers can contribute to sustainable tourism practices. This can be done by minimising waste, choosing eco-friendly accommodation, and engaging with local businesses.
Has Japan's tourism fully recovered to pre-COVID levels?
Yes, Japan's tourism has returned to pre-COVID levels, indicating a resurgence in travel activities and a recovery from the impacts of the pandemic.
How expensive is travelling to Japan post-COVID?
The cost of travelling to Japan post-COVID can vary, influenced by factors like accommodation choices, dining preferences, and activities. It is advisable to plan and budget accordingly based on personal preferences.
Are there any budget-friendly options for travellers in Japan?
Yes, Japan offers various budget-friendly options, including affordable accommodations, local eateries, and cost-effective transportation. Exploring less touristy areas can also contribute to a more economical travel experience.
What are the recommended destinations in Japan post-COVID?
Popular destinations post-COVID include Tokyo for its vibrant urban scene, Kyoto for historical and cultural richness, and Hokkaido for nature enthusiasts. Each region offers unique experiences, catering to diverse interests.
Are there any travel restrictions or guidelines for visitors to Japan?
Travel restrictions and guidelines may vary, and it's essential for travellers to stay updated on the latest information from official sources. Checking entry requirements, vaccination mandates, and local protocols is advisable before planning a trip to Japan.