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New departure tax underway in Japan

But don’t expect it to affect visitor numbers ... too much

Japan-bound travellers will now be hit with a departure tax when leaving the country. 


Tipped to reach ¥50 billion (AU$644 million) in 2019, revenue raised by the small ¥1,000 (AU$13) levy will be put towards measures aimed to stimulate more international tourism to the country in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. 



According to the government, it will be targeting smoother travel for visitors, better access to information about the country’s tourist sites, and the promotion of the country’s regional areas, The Japan Times reported. 


Specifically, there will be more facial recognition gates at air and seaports, and more multi-lingual kiosks at cultural attractions and national parks. 


Applied to both air and sea travellers, the tax will be added to the transportation fares of passengers irrespective of nationality, with children under 2 and transit passengers (who stay for less than 24 hours) among the few to be exempted from the charge. 


While some travellers have so far been unaware of the new tax, there are some concerns in the tourism sector.


“Holidaymakers always go for cheaper packages, so even if it’s only ¥1,000 the rise in (tour) prices will be a huge burden for us,” a 47-year-old Osaka tour conductor told the Times.


According to the Japan Tourism Agency, Japan welcomed a record 30 million foreign tourists in 2018, and aims to attract 40 million visitors by 2020.


Does a departure tax ever deter you from visiting a country?


Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 8 January 2019

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