Japan begins collecting Y1,000 departure tax to fund inbound tourism promotion plan
Japan Times -- Jan 08
Japan started collecting a ¥1,000 departure tax Monday from each traveler leaving the country in an effort to fund measures to attract more foreign visitors in the run-up to and beyond the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The new tax, which applies to both air and sea travel, will be tacked onto transportation fares of passengers who bought tickets from Monday onwards irrespective of their nationality. Children under the age of 2 and transit passengers leaving Japan within 24 hours of arrival will be exempted. The levy will also not be imposed on those who depart after entering the country due to bad weather or other unavoidable circumstances.

The tax income will be allocated mainly for three purposes, according to the government’s policy. Those are said to be providing smoother travel services, facilitating access to information about the country’s tourist attractions, and improving visitor satisfaction levels by promoting tourism resources in regional areas on topics such as unique local culture and natural features.

The levy is the first new permanent tax to be introduced since the land value tax came into force in 1992.

In fiscal 2019 the government estimates revenue generated by the departure tax will reach ¥50 billion. It plans to use the money mostly for introducing more facial recognition gates at air and seaports for speedier immigration procedures and making more information available in multiple languages at cultural properties and national parks.

Japan has enjoyed a surge in the annual number of inbound tourists in recent years, topping the 30 million mark for the first time in 2018 according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

That growth was helped by a steady increase in Asian tourists, particularly from China, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, government data shows.

Aiming to welcome 40 million foreign visitors by 2020, the government plans to use the tax revenue to attract more visitors from Europe, too.

News sources: Japan Times, ANNnewsCH
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