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Japan relaxes visa requirements to boost tourism from Asia

July 11, 2013 Destination North Asia No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Japan has relaxed visa requirements for tourists from several Southeast Asian countries. Aimed at marking 40 years of ties between Japan and ASEAN, it is also an opportunity to further boost the number of tourists to Japan.

TOKYO: Japan has relaxed visa requirements for tourists from several Southeast Asian countries.

Aimed at marking 40 years of ties between Japan and ASEAN, it is also an opportunity to further boost the number of tourists to Japan.

A ride with a great view. One bus ride called ‘Sky Hop Bus’ serves three routes in Tokyo.

For about US$18 a day, one can get on and off the bus anytime, as it makes its way through Tokyo’s landmarks – from the electronics and pop culture capital of Akihabara to the historic gateway to the rest of Japan, Nihonbashi, and the highest tower in the world ‘Tokyo Sky Tree’.

“It gives a broad view of everything here in Tokyo. It’s wonderful, we love it. We’re on this trip because we’re married for 55 years,” said an American tourist in her 60s.

An Mexican male tourist said: “I’m going to get married next September. I’m going to come for honeymoon here in Japan. Kyoto, Osaka and Sapporo.”

Takako Uchida, a senior staff at Hinomaru Jidousha Kogyo, said: “Over half are foreign visitors, of which half are westerners. Recently we feel that those from Asia are on the rise.”

The famous Sensoji Temple in Tokyo, which is along the route, is flooded with mostly Asian tourists.

Inbound tourists are increasing at a record pace.

And the Koreans are returning quickly to Japan despite differences in historic and territorial disputes.

The number of Chinese, however, are still falling.

All in all, the Japanese government aims to attract 10 million visitors in 2013. Still that’s a modest figure compared to other countries.

It is only recently that the Japanese government started doing more to boost the tourism sector.

“In the Netherlands, you don’t see any promotion of Japan to visit (the country) as a tourist. I don’t know that many people who has visited Japan,” said a Dutch man.

Takako Uchida added: “We’ve operated this double-decker open bus from 2004. But to enable the hop-on and off system, it took a very long time to gain approval from the government. We were able to start the hop-on and off routes in 2012.”

With a target of 30 million tourists a year by 2030, one area Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hopes to look into is to cut the bureaucracy by relaxing hefty paperwork in the various ministries and agencies.

Edited by : Bill Hurley

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