Southeast Asians excited to see actual cherry blossoms in bloom and the land of anime will soon find it easy to do so as Japan’s government and ruling coalition are pushing to waive visas for people coming from the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam. This is part of the country’s push to make it more tourist-friendly in preparation for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Visas have already been waived for tourists coming from Malaysia and Thailand beginning July of last year. This has seen a surge of tourists from these countries, with visitors increasing by 61 percent. A total of 630,000 tourists from the two nations alone added to Japan’s 10 million foreigners who visited the country in 2013. With around 140,00 Indonesians, 110,000 Filipinos and 80,000 Vietnamese entering the country with required visas last year, the government is expecting the numbers to balloon by foregoing visa requirements for these three nations. Overstaying for visitors coming from Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam have been relatively low for the past year and have stayed within the 0.09 to 0.34 percent.
The government hopes that by waiving the visa requirements for these three countries, more visitors will choose Japan over rival South Korea as a travel destination to help boost its economy’s growth. Japan is looking at increasing its annual foreign visitors to reach 20 million by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In 2013, tourists from the East Asian countries of China, South Korea and Taiwan have been the largest demographics of foreign visitors to enter Japan.
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