Since the easing of border measures from October 11th, 2022, and then the introduction the following month of a full visa waiver for UAE nationals from November 1st, Emirati and GCC nationals have been flocking to Japan at levels comparable or even greater than that experience during pre-covid periods.
The surge in visitation is expected to increase from March onwards as many tourists travel to Japan to enjoy the seasonal cherry blossoms.
- The number of UAE nationals visiting Japan in December 2022 was 1,264, which is 18.6% higher than December 2019.
- The number of GCC nationals visiting Japan in January 2023 was 1,517, which is only 10.7% lower than January 2019.
*Data from Preliminary statistics, Immigration Services Agency, Japan
Remarks by Executive Director of Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) Dubai office, Mr. KOBAYASHI Daisuke】
The swift return and strong travel demand to Japan by UAE and GCC nationals has been incredibly heart-warming and encouraging. To facilitate travel, and to ensure that quality and diverse travel packages are available, we recently held tourism seminars for the UAE’s leading travel agencies and industry partners in both Abu Dhabi and in Dubai. The eagerness and desire of many to proactively promote destination Japan as a ‘new’ destination and as a ‘culinary destination’ to their clients was overwhelming.”
Visiting Japan for the cherry blossoms is an aspirational experience for many GCC nationals. Although cherry blossom peak timings of many main cities in Japan, including Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, coincide with Ramadan this year, there are many amazing cherry blossom spots in the northern regions of Japan such as Tohoku and Hokkaido regions, where peak blossoming is expected to coincide with Eid Al Fitr.
Says Kobayashi: “We hope many GCC nationals choose to visit northern Japan over the Eid Al Fitr celebrations to experience our cherry blossoms in magnificent settings. One of Japan’s most famous, picture-perfect locations for this that I would like to recommend is Hirosaki Castle in Aomori prefecture, or the picturesque port city of Hakodate in Hokkaido, which is perfect for strolls down its beautiful historic streets and parks which will all be in full bloom.”