Individual travellers leaving Japan are now paying a departure tax of 1,000 yen (9 U.S. dollars) which has begun to be collected from Monday.
Those individuals who are leaving Japan by airlines or ship are liable to pay this new tax while the government had exempted those who leave Japan within 24 hours of arrival as well as children under the age of two years.
This new tax was passed as a legislation by the Japanese parliament in April last year with the aim of developing a new revenue source. The money collected from this new tax would be used for creating enhanced travel services in addition to providing travellers with better access to information about travelling in Japan so that the levels of satisfaction of the visitors is increased and tourism – especially in the rural areas, is bolstered.
According to government officials of Japan, the authorities are expecting an increase in the numbers of tourists who would be entering the country as the country gets ready to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games which are to be held in Tokyo in 2020. Authorities said that the money collected from the new tax would be used for construction of facilities and infrastructure so that the country can cope with the increased number of travellers.
Between January and March 2019, the income from the new tax will amount to some 6 billion yen (55.26 million U.S. dollars), government officials in Tokyo have said. The government has also ensured that all of the money that is collected through the new exit tax would only be spent in projects that are related to tourism through the passing of a prior legislation by the country’s parliament.
According to the estimates of the Japanese government, the 50 billion yen mark would be hit in terms of the revenue in total fiscal year of 2019. The government has also said that the money would be invested in development projects for tourism which would include facial recognition technology at gates in air and seaports.
There is still deflationary pressure in Japan even though its economy has seen some growth and this has shifted the focus of the government on tourism development for stimulating the economy further.
In recent years, the number of people entering Japan as tourists from the closest neighbours of the country has increased significantly. This is partly because of relaxed visa regulations and a comparatively weak yen which has increased the purchasing power of the visitors with foreign currencies.
In 2018, there were more than 30 million visitors to Japan which is the first for the tourism industry of the country since record keeping began, said the Japan Tourism Agency. The government is aiming to increase the number to 40 million by 2020.
There has been increasing number of tourists from China as well as from South Korea.
Getting more tourists from European countries to visit Japan is also being aimed by the government.
The introduction of the departure tax has however met with some backlash as there have been complaints by some locals who claim that the system is designed to only benefit the foreign tourists and not the common residents of the country.
(Adapted from XinhuaNet.com)