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Local Opinions - Overseas Travel To Japan 2020/5/16 13:30
I've got a bit of an odd question. When the COVID-19 travel restricts start to reduce - will rural tourism embrace or shy away from promoting international tourism straight away?

I've visited Japan more than most and have some of my best travel experiences period from some of the more slightly remote locations in Japan. I'm also aware that Okinawa was asking fellow Japanese not to visit a month or so ago before the lockdown.

To put it simple - I've got one more trip left in me for the next few years and it looks as though the only potential options for me in 2020 are Australia (will live here soon - boring), NZ (a slightly more hilly Australia, they just don't know it yet), Taiwan (not worth a month trip), South Korea (not sure if I have 1 month of stuff to do there) and Japan (the only thing that could get me back to Japan is Fall colors).

I am looking at planning a trip (not booking) but wanted to hear local views on how the resumption of international tourism will be seen in more out of the way places.

Please note that I'm not talking about racism or xenophobia at all - but just wanted to check how people would feel about this on the ground.
by mfedley  

Re: Local Opinions - Overseas Travel To Japan 2020/5/16 14:53
Nobody knows what the situation in autumn will be. Right now, tourism is still at a standstill even within Japan. Only just now, intra-prefectural travel is staring to become somewhat acceptable again in some parts of the country, but inter-prefectural travel remains discouraged.

In the best-case scenario, the number of new infections will continue to decrease and be nearly around zero for the next few months. In such a case, it is likely that domestic tourism will start normalizing, and that society will gradually become used to tourism again. As soon as that happens, they will also have no problems with foreign tourists, because these days it is impossible to distinguish between domestic and oversea travelers. There are now too many non-Japanese residents. However, you will be expected to adjust to the local "corona manners" which may be different from your home country. If you don't, you may invite troubles.

The bigger question, however, is when it will become possible for foreigners to enter Japan again. Right now, visa-free travel is impossible, and nobody knows when it will be reintroduced. Looking at the infection numbers around the world, it is quite obvious to me that it will take a very long time until Japan will reintroduce the visa exception program for Europeans and North Americans. The question is whether and when people from less affected countries, like Australia and New Zealand, will be able to re-enter again. I would be positively surprised if it happened by this autumn already (I hope I will).

In general, I think local opinions will mainly depend on government restrictions. The population is generally very pragmatic and pays close attention to official restrictions and behaves accordingly, and the government's policies have - in my opinion (which is different from many) - been well balanced and wise. As long as the governments discourages travel, you better don't come (even if you could), but once the restrictions are lifted, a majority of people (with the possible exception of some paranoid bigots) will have no problems with oversea tourism, as long as you adhere to the new local post-corona manners which will probably have to be observed at least until vaccination becomes widespread.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: Local Opinions - Overseas Travel To Japan 2020/5/16 15:52
Hi mfedley

I wonder why you can travel so much to Japan (you must have been traveling in Japan at least 12 months, maybe even more over the years, ) but think that South Korea or Taiwan donft even have enough for 1 month?

I donft know a lot about both places, have only been for a few days, but I would think that also most people who visit Japan for the first time think that 3 weeks is more than enough. Nevertheless you (and I) managed to travel through Japan for many months and still have a bucket list of new destinations where to go. Many of them even our Japanese friends have never visited or considered for holidays.

Okay, that doesnft help your question and travel to TW and KR is not going to be easier corona-wise than Japan...

But anyway, good to hear that you consider gone more last triph. Looking forward to the posts.

Just to add one reply on reaction from locals. I was in Japan from mid February to end April this year. By end March all foreign visitors were banned and everyone who came needed to do 14 days of quarantine. At that moment I obviously already was for 6 weeks in Japan, so any potential infection I might have had would have been domestically acquired. So no quarantine for me. But I was initially a bit nervous how people would react to a clearly recognizable foreigner. Eg if they would think I am a risk to them because I am a foreigner. I obviously donft know what anyone THINKS, but I did not notice any change in behavior in the Japanese I met. I mean nothing different from normal times in how they reacted to me.
by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: Local Opinions - Overseas Travel To Japan 2020/5/16 16:30
Thanks for the info from on the ground.

For Taiwan and South Korea, I used to live in Taiwan so have already seen some of the sights. I've also been to South Korea multiple times as I used to live near Shanghai. I quite like Jeju Island which has a Mt Aso feeling along with the strangest tacky museums you'll ever see.

I'm expecting borders to open very slowly in little travel bubbles. My home country (Australia) is looking at NZ and the South Pacific first. This will be followed by like minded countries which (A) has been successful in the fight against covid-19 and (B) strong contract tracing. Singapore, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Taiwan are mentioned as the only countries which may be possible to visit by the end of the year - at least fom me living in Australia.

During the early periods of COVID-19 (before early March), it was interesting to travel around SE Asia without large numbers of Chinese tourists. It was quite a unique experience and the planning will give me something to do when I have to stay in a hotel room for 2 weeks and not leave in late June when I return to Australia (currently in Singapore for work and can't leave).
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Local Opinions - Overseas Travel To Japan 2020/5/17 07:59
The depiction of NZ as Aus with hills is a bit off - one is a flat country of dirt and the other actually gets rain and is green (I was asked seriously - while working in Melbourne - if NZ got rain).

As for rural people accepting of tourists post-covid, probably as welcoming as pre-covid. You still get Japanese people that don't like foreigners, and those in business that simple welcome those willing to explore the countryside and welcome the spending that goes with it. Given the huge downturn in spending, most business owners would welcome that. (Note, April tourist arrivals have been reported as 1,259, down from 2,680,000 for April 2019).

The (limited) contacts I have had with inn owners over the last couple of months re-arranging accommodation is that they are still wanting and looking forward to future booking.

Currently the news is covering vigilante attacks on people for simply travelling between prefectures, which isn't hard to do. Once the restrictions are lifted, then there should be less of that.

And on the restrictions, they will be lifted in stages, but the timing and travel restrictions do remain unclear. The next main update I am expecting towards the end of the month when the MOFA website should be revised.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Local Opinions - Overseas Travel To Japan 2020/5/17 12:53
The problem with rural places here in Japan (and I believe this is the same all over the world) is that they cannot accommodate as many patients as the big cities can, because of the lack of medical facilities and personnel.

This is one of the biggest reasons that even after restrictions were slightly (and perhaps temporarily) reduced in the 39 out of 47 prefectures in Japan, as of May 14, we are still being encouraged to avoid travel between different prefectures unless it's of necessary business. So, for example, things are starting to ease down in, let's say Iwate and Tottori Prefectures, but residents of Tokyo or Osaka Prefectures should basically not be traveling to Iwate or Tottori yet.

Tourism in Japan is literally dying to accept tourists whether they are domestic or foreign. But just because the place is rural, that doesn't mean it would be easier for them to accept tourists then the non-rural areas are.

So it's not a matter of rural or non-rural. Experts on Japanese TV suggest that things like the development of vaccination and curative medicine must come first before accepting random visitors from all over the world, and that includes festivals, concerts and sports events.

There have been more than one case in which a (Japanese) family member of a rural place came home temporarily from a city and ended up causing a cluster. So people are really sharing their sentiments, sending love through social media or gift packages, but we're quite cautious about making close contact. And again, this is all for love.

For the record, here in Japan, I've been having dreams about me traveling. The other night, in my sleep, I enjoyed yogurt somewhere in Eastern Europe ;)
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Local Opinions - Overseas Travel To Japan 2020/5/17 14:35
Just confirming that I will not travel until it is seen as reasonably safe. I'm also aware of limited hospitals in regional areas as I come from Australia - which this is basically 98% of the land.

I guess my main aim was to find if locals will be supportive or not. Let's just say that I don't like to upset people around me. For example - I don't like going into some very rural restaurants with no English ability as often they feel uncomfortable being unable to communicate. Thankfully my very limited Japanese with Google Translate most of the time fixes this problem.

The comments above are interesting though
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Local Opinions - Overseas Travel To Japan 2020/5/17 15:49
I totally understand your intentions, mfedley. I guess my point is that when tourism in Japan does open up toward foreign tourists, probably the whole country will open up instead of just rural areas. And tourists will be welcome regardless of their nationality or destination, because there will be little to be scared of.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Local Opinions - Overseas Travel To Japan 2020/5/20 00:28
Those in the tourism industry will likely be desperate for anyone who will visit. Rural areas were almost completely unaffected by the virus in terms of people contracting it, so their attitude may actually be more easy-going.
A lot of people living in places near major cities are already annoyed, because the proximity is making their reopening slower.
Everyone obviously tries to be sensitive to the issue, but the overall sentiment that I have found from Japanese is that many are ready to get back to normal life. Even in the larger cities, Japan was mostly unaffected by the virus itself, so people talk a lot more about economic woes.

I think people would only start to resent foreign tourists if the country reopens and the foreigners cause a great boom in cases. Otherwise, I think they want tourism to come back.
by Rabbityama rate this post as useful

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