Over time we see countries both add and remove barriers to visiting. On the plus side, we’re seeing more and more countries remove the requirements for visitors to get visas, or in the case of other countries, they’re making it possible to visit at all, when previously that wasn’t the case (like in Angola and Saudi Arabia).
Conversely, we’re seeing more countries and airports add taxes and fees for passengers. I see both sides of it, of course. Countries want to generate as much revenue as possible, and charging each visitor a fee of some sort has the potential to increase revenue a lot. However, studies have also shown that additional airport taxes have an impact on tourism. It might not sound like a lot, but for countries with super cheap airfare and a lot of ultra low cost carriers, a $10 fare different across the board can have a big impact on demand.
Along those lines, Nikkei Asian Review is reporting that Japan will be adding a new departure tax of 1,000 Yen (~10USD) as of January 7, 2019. They anticipate that this will raise an additional 40 billion Yen annually (~370 million USD), which will be used to fund tourism expenses.
This fee will apply to both Japanese and foreigners, and will be payable for departures by air and sea. This will be collected as part of the ticket cost, so you won’t have to queue to pay this, but rather you’ll likely just see the cost of tickets increased.
Japan’s vice minister of finance hasn’t yet revealed how this revenue will be used, which I find a bit strange. Usually when tourism fees like this are added, they do so with a specific purpose, but it seems like they’re just viewing this as an easy opportunity to increase revenue. Many are hoping that the money will be used to increase staffing at immigration, or to accelerate the introduction of biometric verification at the airport.
For most of us, paying an extra $10 on a ticket out of Japan won’t make a huge difference. However, it’s certainly an unwelcome change all around, and has the potential to impact demand on ultra low cost carriers (though in fairness, Japan isn’t a cheap country, so the fee should impact demand here less than elsewhere).
What do you make of Japan’s new tourist fee?