Whiteroom Blog

Japan is taking steps to reopen!

Japan’s borders will begin a staged opening from June 10th, with Prime Minister Kishida recently announcing that Japan will be accepting specific guided tour packages from this date. This is the first step on the road to Japan opening its borders fully and allowing all foreign tourists.

Since March, Japan has been slowly easing its COVID-19 border controls and will increase its cap on arrivals to 20,000 people per day in June. That’s still a far cry from the close to 90,000 arrivals each day in Japan pre-pandemic but it is a step in the right direction.

Last week Japan began accepting small group tours of vaccinated travellers from the United States, Australia, Thailand and Singapore as a trial toward the resumption of foreign tourism. Visitors needed to be vaccinated three times, including the booster shot, to participate in the tours.

We have learnt in this recent announcement however that as long as you are from a “Blue” country you wont need to be vaccinated at all (which includes Australia, USA, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Sweden, Singapore, South Africa, United Kingdom, New Zealand and more).

With Japan’s staged approach to opening their border now underway, our peak-season winter tours and guided days are beginning to fill up fast!

Get in touch if you’d like to reserve your place!

We’re all looking forward to more days like this!

So what does this means for us powder starved Japanophiles?
Despite many in our industry shouting from their social media accounts that Japan is open again, this is actually the first step in Japan being open to all tourists. If you want to go to Japan now as a tourist it means travelling with one of the big Japan tour companies in a closely monitored group. That means no wandering the streets of Tokyo to find that cool/quirky shop or bar; It means being on a bus and following a person with a flag to the major tourists sites.

Yeah ok, but my main focus is getting some turns in!
This is the million dollar question. If I was a betting man I’d be planning and booking now. Flights in January have already increased from below $1000 to closer to $2000 if you are flying out of Australia. They will only increase further due to demand and fuel costs. The airlines also want to make up for 2 years of being grounded! Having said that flights have no fees to change or cancel prior to departure so why not book a flight now!

Our tours are also starting to fill up as is our guide availability over the peak powder period of mid Jan to mid Feb. If you want to secure your spot I’d be having a look to see which tour interests you and getting in touch, as many of our past clients are doing.

Japan like most nations around the world are on a path to opening up. I doubt very much that things are going to go back to the way they were for the past 2 years. Governments can’t afford it and it looks as if COVID, like many pandemics before it, is slowly becoming more infectious but less virulent.

Sign me up! But wait what if the unthinkable happens and COVID morphs into an even uglier beast and Japan shuts its borders again?
I believe that this won’t happen for the reasons I mentioned above. If it does happen your deposit is fully transferrable up to 60 days from departure. After that you will lose a percentage of your trip. Please see our terms and conditions for more information.

Wait a sec. So I will lose my money if at the last minute the borders close?
The short answer is yes. You will lose a percentage of what you paid. We will of course endeavour to get as much of it back as possible for you and roll it over to next season, but if it is a last minute cancellation then we have boots on ground. That means we have paid our suppliers, recruited guides, hired or bought vans etc. Those suppliers have also employed people and we’ve all incurred a lot of expenses in the lead up to the season. There needs to be some shared risk here.

So I’m a bit worried about all that, can I get insurance for that?
Generally no. Getting insurance for a last minute force majeure or act of god, that is completely out of everyone’s control, is not possible. No one can insure you for that and it is the risk you take in this current environment. It’s the risk we all take.

Ok, so what should I do here, I don’t want to miss out on a tour or booking a guide?
Well, it’s up to you. However, if you wait until the last minute to book by that time all our tours may be sold out and our guides not available for your private group. I’d advise booking now so that you don’t miss out and if we cancel the season your deposit moves over to the next one.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have further questions!

Japan’s dry, dry powder awaits us all

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