Travellers leaving Japan to pay departure tax from Jan 7

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

$12.50 to be collected from each person leaving by plane or ship

TOKYO • Visitors to Japan will have to pay a 1,000 yen (S$12.50) levy when leaving the country from Monday, 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, the Japan Times reported on Tuesday.

Under the relevant law, which was 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, said officials, according to the 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, it added.

The revenue from the tax is estimated to hit 6 billion yen in the 2018 fiscal year to March this year, and 50 billion yen in the 2019 fiscal year, the 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.

 
 

According to the legislation, the government also plans to get public transportation operators to expand free wireless Internet services and roll out electronic payment systems.

Within Japan, Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto charge a lodging tax of 100 to 300 yen per person per night to finance local tourism promotion and other measures.

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

According to the Japan National Tourism Organisation, travellers from Singapore made around 400,000 trips to Japan in 2017, accounting for 1.4 per cent of the total number of in-bound trips made by foreigners.

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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2019, with the headline 'Travellers leaving Japan to pay departure tax from Jan 7'. Print Edition | Subscribe