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Japan Travel and Tourism Market

The Government of Japan (GOJ) has gradually been removing travel restrictions that have been in place since the start of the Covid pandemic.  And on September 22, 2022, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced at a press conference in New York that the GOJ would finally eliminate some of the remaining barriers, namely: waive short-term visa requirements to enter and stay in Japan for 90 days; eliminate the 50,000 cap on the number of daily arrivals; and allow visits by individual tourists.  The changes take effect from October 11, 2022.   With these positive developments in border control and the industry’s movements to motivate Japanese consumers to travel abroad, now is an excellent time for the U.S. travel industry to promote its destinations and services in the Japanese market.

Prior to COVID-19, Japan was the second-largest overseas source of travelers for the United States, annually sending 3.8 million visitors and contributing to $13 billion in spending for the U.S. economy.  In 2019, Japanese outbound travelers reached a record number of 20.1 million.  Within this figure, the U.S. was the most popular destination for Japanese travelers with visitors occupying an 18.7% market share.  However, post-COVID in 2021, the number of Japanese travelers to the U.S. fell to its lowest figure on record of 122,000.   Japan’s strong border controls spurred this decrease with strict regulations, making it increasingly difficult for Japanese travelers to visit foreign destinations, including the U.S.  In particular, two obstacles made it especially difficult for Japanese travelers: 1) the requirement of self-quarantining after returning/entering Japan, and 2) the requirement for incoming travelers to provide proof of negative COVID-19 PCR test results.  For the overall traffic of international travel to rise again, there has been a strong need for these regulations to be removed.

In April 2022, there were positive developments to resume international travel that were set by the GOJ, starting with the elimination of self-quarantine requirements for travelers from the U.S.  In addition, in early September, the GOJ no longer required incoming travelers to provide proof of negative COVID-19 PCR test results, as long as travelers had three doses of vaccines.  Despite these welcome steps, the requirement of visas for incoming foreign visitors, a cap on the number of daily arrivals in Japan and need for tourists to arrive in Japan via pre-registered tour groups, continued to hinder travel.

Nonetheless, the local travel industry, led by the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA), has been active in promoting outbound travel.  In the summer of 2022, for example, the Japanese tourism industry, consisting of travel companies, airlines, and tourism offices, launched promotional campaigns in Tokyo and other major Japanese cities to encourage international travel.  JATA also launched an online Twitter campaign and placed large ads encouraging outbound travel in major newspapers, with details of the campaign being featured on numerous television news programs.

As the COVID situation continues to gradually improve, after nearly three years of limited traveling, there is pent-up demand with the Japanese to start traveling again.  Various surveys have inquired consumers on what they want to do post-COVID, and the top answers are always “domestic travel” followed by “overseas travel.”  The U.S. is consistently ranked as one of the top destinations for Japanese travelers post-COVID.

For more information about the Japanese outbound travel market, please contact the Commercial Service Japan at or visit the Commercial Service Japan Website: