Travellers leaving Japan to pay 1,000 yen departure tax from Jan 7

People walking down Takeshita Street in Tokyo's fashion district of Harajuku on Jan 1, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO - Visitors to Japan will have to pay a 1,000 yen (S$12.50) levy when leaving the country from next Monday (Jan 7), Japanese media reported.

Japan will start collecting the 1,000 yen departure tax for each person leaving the country by aircraft or ship regardless of nationality, Japan Times reported.

Under the law enacted in April last year, the levy will be collected each time an individual leaves the country, and comes on top of airfare, ship fare and travel fees.

The Japanese government plans to utilise the revenue from the tax for measures to accommodate more foreign visitors to the country, develop tourism bases and improve immigration procedures, officials said, according to Japan Times.

People leaving Japan within 24 hours of their transit entry and children under two years old will be exempted from the departure tax, the report said.

Those with tickets purchased and issued before Jan 7 will also be exempted from the tax.

The revenue from the tax is estimated to hit six billion yen in fiscal year 2018 through March 2019 and 50 billion yen in fiscal year 2019, Japan Times said.

Specifically, the revenue will be used to set up facial recognition gates at airports for speedier immigration procedures, while also promoting the use of multilingual information boards and helping to introduce more cashless payment terminals for public transportation.

The number of visitors to Japan has surged in recent years, topping 30 million for the first time in 2018.

The government has set a goal of increasing the annual number of foreign visitors to 40 million by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympics and Paralympics.

With the departure tax, the government expects to secure stable financial resources for measures to promote tourism, the officials said.

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