Ja­pan in­tro­duces new de­par­ture tax for vis­i­tors to bol­ster tourism drive

Global Times - Weekend - - TRAVEL - Xinhua

Ja­pan on Mon­day be­gan col­lect­ing a de­par­ture tax of 1,000 yen ($9) from in­di­vid­ual trav­el­ers de­part­ing the coun­try.

The new de­par­ture tax is ap­pli­ca­ble to those de­part­ing Ja­pan by air­plane or ship, while in­fants aged un­der 2 years old and those tran­sit­ing within 24 hours are ex­empt.

The tax fol­lows legislation passed in April last year and is aimed at cre­at­ing new rev­enue streams that will be di­rected into fa­cil­i­tat­ing im­proved travel ser­vices, as well as pro­vid­ing trav­el­ers with bet­ter ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion about trav­el­ing in Ja­pan to en­hance vis­i­tors’ sat­is­fac­tion and bol­ster tourism, es­pe­cially to ru­ral ar­eas.

The de­par­ture tax will also be al­lo­cated to the build­ing of fa­cil­i­ties and in­fra­struc­ture to cope with the in­creas­ing num­bers of tourists ex­pected to visit Ja­pan in the run up to and after the Olympic and Par­a­lympic Games to be held in Tokyo in 2020, govern­ment of­fi­cials have said.

Govern­ment of­fi­cials in Tokyo have said the in­come from the new tax will amount to some 6 bil­lion yen be­tween Jan­uary and March, and prior legislation had been passed to en­sure all rev­enue gen­er­ated is al­lo­cated for projects re­lated to tourism.

Rev­enue in fis­cal 2019, mean­while, is ex­pected to hit the 50 bil­lion yen mark, the govern­ment has es­ti­mated, with the funds to be uti­lized for tourism­re­lated projects and in­fra­struc­ture, in­clud­ing fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy at gates in air and sea­ports.

Ja­pan, while en­joy­ing an eco­nomic uptick, is still mired in de­fla­tion­ary pres­sure and has been in­creas­ingly look­ing to­wards its tourism in­dus­try to boost its econ­omy.

The num­ber of tourists, par­tic­u­larly from Ja­pan’s clos­est neigh­bors, has risen sig­nifi- cantly re­cently, owing in part to re­laxed visa regulations and a com­par­a­tively weak yen bol­ster­ing the pur­chas­ing power of in­bound vis­i­tors.

The Ja­pan Tourism Agency said that in­bound tourists for the first time since record keep­ing be­gan topped 30 mil­lion vis­i­tors in 2018 and the govern­ment is aim­ing to see that fig­ure rise to 40 mil­lion by 2020.

Vis­i­tor num­bers from China have been con­sis­tently solid, as well as those from South Korea.

In ad­di­tion, the govern­ment also aims at at­tract­ing more tourists from Eu­ro­pean coun­tries.

There has been some back­lash, how­ever, to the in­tro­duc­tion of the de­par­ture tax, with some lo­cals com­plain­ing that the sys­tem is de­signed just to ben­e­fit tourists and not Ja­panese cit­i­zens.

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