Photo: Unsplash/David Edelstein

2 Covid-era tourism models Japan can adopt to open to tourists sooner

Here are two travel systems used in Asia that balance tourism needs with Covid-19 safety measures

Lim Chee Wah
Written by
Lim Chee Wah

Since the pandemic, Japan has had one of the world’s strictest border controls. By and large, the country has been closed to all overseas arrivals, save for citizens, foreign residents with valid visa and re-entry permit as well as a handful of travellers with exceptional circumstances.

The near blanket closure has been a source of anguish for foreign students who are anxious to continue their studies in Japan. Now, even Japan’s largest business lobby, Keidanren, is calling for the government to lift the country’s entry ban.

We know many of you have been eager and waiting patiently to visit Tokyo as well as other parts of Japan – and we can’t wait to welcome you back to this amazing city and country. Unfortunately, at this point in time, there has yet to be a decision on when Japan will reopen its borders to tourists.

For now, all we can do is look at some of the Covid-era tourism models that other countries in the region have successfully implemented, and hope that Japan follows suit soon, either with similar models or with its own way to welcome tourists back safely to our shores again.

Compared to some other countries whose only entry requirement is proof of full vaccination, these two border control measures by some of Japan’s neighbours in the region might just be more feasible for Japan’s more cautionary approach.

Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL)

This quarantine-free travel programme applies to selected countries which have a ‘travel bubble’ agreement with Singapore. Broadly speaking, to enter this island nation, fully vaccinated visitors must perform pre-departure and on-arrival Covid-19 tests. After which, they would also need to undergo a daily Antigen Rapid Test (aka Rapid Antigen Test or RAT) from day 2 to 7 if they need to leave their accommodation during that period.

Thailand’s Test and Go programme

Called Test and Go, Thailand’s quarantine-free entry is one of the most tourist-friendly programmes in the Asian region. International travellers who have completed their Covid-19 vaccination can apply to enter the country for tourism purposes – without the need for quarantine. However, they would need to book an overnight stay at a specific hotel for their first and fifth day. They must also test negative on those two days.

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