Japan eases visa rules for South East Asian tourists

Featured Japan South East Asia - June 27th, 2013
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Japan has eased tourist visa requirements for several Southeast Asian countries in a bid to revive the economy through tourism, The Nikkei reports.

Tourists from Thailand and Malaysia will no longer need entry visas, while visitors from the Philippines and Vietnam will be eligible for multiple-entry visas, the government said Tuesday. For Indonesian tourists, multiple-entry visas will be issued for a longer period than the current 15 days.

The new visa regulations will be effective July 1, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Japan is seeking to attract 1 million tourists from six major Southeast Asian nations this year alone.

The move is also aimed at lifting overall spending by foreign tourists from 1.08 trillion yen in 2012 to 4.7 trillion yen in 2030, the Japan External Trade Organization said.

Tourists from Thailand – the second largest in number next to the Chinese – and Malaysia spend an average of 130,000 yen during their visits, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

South Koreans hold the top spot for the number of tourists coming to Japan. At the same time, South Korea attracts millions of visitors from Southeast Asia, with the figure reaching 1.3 million last year.

The number of Chinese tourists has declined amid a territorial dispute between Tokyo and Beijing over islands in the East China Sea.

The easing of visa regulations is part of Japan’s efforts to develop relationships with Southeast Asian countries, to mark the “40th year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation”.