Visiting Japan just got more expensive. A new departure tax is being charged whenever tourists leave Japan by plane or boat. It’s no coincidence that the new tax comes just one year before the 2020 Olympics are set to roll into Japan.
How much will you need to pay when you exit Japan from now on? The fee that became effective this month works out to be about $9 per person. Many people are upset by the tax. The International Air Transport Association has been strongly opposed to the new tax ever since it was announced last year. Airlines believe that the tax will hurt business because ticket prices are now automatically going to be $9 higher when travelers book departure flights. Other destinations in Asia are now considering introducing their own departure taxes. It is highly likely that Malaysia will impose a new levy on all departing passengers beginning on June 1 of this year. Of course, tourism taxes are becoming common in countries all around the world. China, Australia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Sweden and Lebanon already charge departure fees when tourists leave. Taxes are typically added to airfare costs automatically. The trend isn’t sitting too well with airlines for obvious reasons.
Japan’s government has made it clear that any revenue that is taken in as a result of the new tax will be reinvested into the tourism industry. Funds will be used to develop tourist resources across the board. That includes adding free Wi-Fi on all public transportation. It’s no surprise that Japan’s government has tourism on its mind. Close to 40 million people are expected to arrive in Japan for the Olympics during the summer of 2020. The cost of preparing infrastructure for the games is estimated to be as high as $25 billion. That’s four times the amount that Japan estimated back in 2013. Will the new departure tax help to make a dent in that figure? It will take some time. Japan’s government estimates that as much as $459 million worth of revenue will be collected in 2019 as a result of the tax.
Will the new departure tax hurt tourism in Japan? It’s hard to say. Japan’s government is obviously confident that it won’t. The fact is that Japan’s tourism sector is pretty healthy at the moment. Japan is currently a very hot spot for tourists coming from Australia. In fact, close to 500,000 Australians are visiting Japan annually.
[Photo: Enrique Perrella]