Japan starts $12.50 departure tax for travellers

Tourists at Kasuga-Taisha Shrine in Nara park in Nara. Japan has been aggressively courting international tourists as a new pillar of economic growth.
Tourists at Kasuga-Taisha Shrine in Nara park in Nara. Japan has been aggressively courting international tourists as a new pillar of economic growth.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan on Monday (Jan 7) started levying a 1,000 yen (S$12.50) departure tax on each person leaving the country, a measure aimed at raising funds to further boost tourism.

The International Tourist Tax will cover everyone, regardless of nationality - from business people to holidaymakers older than two years of age - and will be tacked on to the price of an airline ticket.

The government wants to use an estimated 50 billion yen it will generate in additional tax revenue to improve tourism infrastructure, such as making airport immigration processes faster and encouraging visitors to explore areas beyond traditionally popular destinations such as Tokyo and Kyoto.

Japan has been aggressively courting international tourists as a new pillar of economic growth.

More than 30 million foreigners are estimated to have visited Japan in 2018, a new record, thanks to a steady flow of tourists from Asia - particularly China, South Korea and Taiwan.

The nation aims to boost visitor figures to 40 million by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games.