National

New departure tax gets mixed reviews from both Japanese and foreign travelers

JIJI

The travel industry is pinning its hopes on the departure tax that was introduced Monday, while some passengers leaving the country voiced unhappiness with the new levy.

Japan began collecting ¥1,000 per person from those leaving the country regardless of nationality.

Revenue from the new tax, estimated at ¥50 billion for fiscal 2019, will be used to make it easier for foreign visitors to travel within the country.

These measures “will be a tailwind” for growth in the number of visitors to Japan, a major travel agency official said.

When the departure tax plan emerged, people in the industry were worried that the levy might discourage overseas people from traveling here, depending on the tax level.

The concerns waned as the government set the tax at ¥1,000 per head. “The advantages of a more convenient tourism environment outweigh” the disadvantages, said an official of an air carrier.

Meanwhile, international passengers had mixed feelings about the tax.

In the departure lounge of Narita International Airport on Monday morning, a university student from China on a family trip questioned why she had to pay the tax.

She said that while the amount of the tax is not significant, she is not convinced about paying it.

“I hope the use of the tax revenue will be made clearer,” a 62-year-old company executive from Kanagawa Prefecture said.

In contrast, a 35-year-old woman who visited Japan on a sightseeing trip from Hebei province, China, said she sees no problem with the tax if the revenue is used to improve airport facilities and take other necessary measures.

A corporate employee, 59, from Tachikawa in western Tokyo, said, “I don’t mind as long as the number of visitors to Japan rises and positively affects the economy.”