Halted Business Tourism Deals Might Kill Japan’s Small Inbound Travel Agencies

Japan’s travel sector is yet to witness another hard blow as the future of its business tourism deals seems certainly hazy. Following the spread of a more infectious Covid-19 strain, the country has tightened its border controls post which all foreign residents and Japanese nationals entering the country will have to undergo strict quarantine restrictions until Feb 7.

As per the new rules, violators might lose resident permits and be subject to deportation as part of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law. The announcement by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has disappointed business travellers across the world as no new visa applicants will be able to enter Japan. Only those who had landing permission prior to government’s decision will be allowed to enter. Consequently, upcoming business tourism deals are bound to suffer hefty losses.

Since all people using programs for business travel with other countries have been banned, reciprocal agreements will be shut. Following this, several inbound travel agencies have expressed criticism for the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA), as it has often ignored the small agencies and worked in favour of the bigger members. Citing former examples, many claim that Japan’s Go to Travel campaign was informed to them on the day of the launch, which diverted most bookings to big travel agencies. The entry restrictions will further problematise survival of all small inbound agencies whose revenue was based on international business tourism deals.

Under the former set of entry rules, short-term business travellers could visit Japan without 14-day quarantine (provided they won’t use public transportation except dedicated train cars on the Keisei Line).

However, the new rules will lay significant impact upon the business tourism deals with 11 countries.

Despite the recent entry bans, Japan is hoping to conduct the Tokyo Olympics 2020 in July this year. The event will bring in a great opportunity for inbound agencies as several business tourism deals might be finalised amidst huge influx of travellers at that time. As of now, all programs for athletes preparing for the games have been halted post restrictions.

For those who can still enter the country, the following rules shall apply:

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