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Japan imposes new tourist tax on visitors departing the country

The levy, which was introduced on 7 January, applies to all departures from Japan by air and sea

Joanna Whitehead
Thursday 10 January 2019 17:03 GMT
Cherry blossom in front of Japan's Mount Fuji
Cherry blossom in front of Japan's Mount Fuji

Visitors departing Japan can now expect to pay a 1,000 yen (£7.20) tourist tax upon leaving the country.

According to The Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO), the new levy has been introduced to “expand and enhance the country’s tourist infrastructure”, describing it as “a small tax that will make a significant difference.”

The tariff, which has been nicknamed the “sayonara tax”, was introduced on Monday 7 January and applies to all visitors leaving Japan by air or sea.

Revenue generated from the tax will be used to improve tourists’ resources and access to information about Japanese attractions, alongside the development of a more “comfortable, stress-free tourist environment”, according to an official document published by the JNTO.

Airlines, cruise liners and/or travel agencies will collect this new tax from tourists and pass this to the Japanese government.

Exceptions to the tax include children under the age of two years, those visiting Japan for less than 24 hours and people leaving Japan “on or after 7 January 2019 using an air ticket issued before 7 January 2019.”

This new legislation was passed by the Japanese government in April 2018 ahead of the expected increase in visitors to the country leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“Japan wanted money to pay for technology terminals to process visitors quicker and to add improved international language signage throughout the country,” World Travel & Tourism Council research director, Rochelle Turner, told Yahoo! Finance.

Between 2011 and 2015, Japan’s tourism industry grew 33 per cent per year, according to Forbes, one of the highest rates in the world. Last year, visitors to the East Asian country topped 30 million for the first time.

While the majority of tourists to the country are Asian, with South Korean, Chinese and Taiwanese travellers making up the bulk of visitors to Japan, 310,500 British nationals visited the country in 2017.

Tourism contributed over £31 billion to the Japanese economy in 2017 and looks set to rise in the coming years.

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