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Travel industry hails new departure tax, tourists mixed

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The travel industry is pinning its hopes on the departure tax that Japan introduced Monday, while some passengers leaving the country voiced unhappiness with the new levy.

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

Departure tax revenue, estimated at ¥50 billion for fiscal 2019, will be used to make it easier for foreign visitors to travel in the country.

Specifically, foreign-language information boards at tourist sites will be improved, more facial recognition gates will be introduced at airports for smoother immigration procedures and free Wi-Fi access points will be increased.

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

When the departure tax plan emerged, industry people were worried that the levy might discourage foreigners from traveling to Japan, 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 were mixed about the tax.

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

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