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Photo: JNTO

Japan unleashes ‘sayonara tax’ on tourists

You now have to pay to leave the country, cash which Japan says will go towards further destination marketing.

Japan has launched a new departure tax this week, dubbed the ‘sayonara tax’, as it prepares to host two major sporting events in the next 18 months.

The increasingly popular destination, which hit 30 million arrivals for the first time in 2018, will host the Rugby World Cup in autumn 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.

The tax is being added to airfares and is set at 1,000 yen (€8). The money raised will be used to improve infrastructure and continue promoting the destination around the world, including highlighting rural regions of the country, the government claims.

The cash will also go towards more facial recognition gates at airports and seaports for faster immigration processing, adding information in multiple languages at cultural attractions, and developing free Wi-Fi on public transport.

60mn visitors
Despite the rapid rise in arrivals in recent years, Japan has ambitious plans to increase international tourism arrivals to 40 million in 2020 – and 60 million by 2030.

The departure tax applies to both international and Japanese travellers departing by aircraft or by ship, but it excludes children under two and transit passengers spending less than 24 hours in the country.

As Conde Nast Traveler points out, the new tax doesn’t look so bad compared to the United Kingdom’s Air Passenger Duty, which can range from £13 to £150 (€14.50-€166) per person, or Australia’s Passenger Movement Charge, set at AUD 60 (€37).

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