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GCC travelers to Japan hit pre-pandemic levels

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Since the easing of border restrictions on October 11, 2022 and full visa exemption for UAE nationals from November 1, 2022, GCC nationals have flocked to Japan in equal or greater numbers than in the pre-COVID period.

Tourist numbers are expected to surge from March onwards as many tourists head to Japan to enjoy the seasonal cherry blossoms.

Preliminary statistics from the Immigration Bureau of Japan:
• The number of UAE nationals visiting Japan in December 2022 was 1,264, an increase of 18.6% compared to December 2019.
• The number of GCC nationals visiting Japan in January 2023 was 1,517, a decrease of only 10.7% from January 2019.

Kobayashi Daisuke, Executive Director of the Dubai Office of the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), said: “The rapid return and strong travel demand to Japan from UAE and GCC nationals is incredibly warming and encouraging. To facilitate travel and ensure quality and diverse travel packages, we recently held travel seminars in Abu Dhabi and Dubai for the UAE’s leading travel agencies and industry partners. Many were enthusiastic about the initiative to promote destination Japan as a ‘new’ destination and a ‘gastronomic destination’ “The longing and desire is overwhelming.”

Traveling to Japan to see cherry blossoms is a dream experience for many GCC nationals. Although the blooming period of cherry blossoms in major Japanese cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka this year coincides with Ramadan, there are also many cherry blossom viewing spots in northern Japan such as Tohoku and Hokkaido. It is expected that the peak period of blooming will coincide with Eid al-Fitr.

Kobayashi added: “We hope that many GCC nationals will choose to visit northern Japan during the Eid celebrations to experience our cherry blossoms in a magnificent setting. One of the most famous and picturesque locations in Japan that I would like to recommend is Aomori Hirosaki Castle in the prefecture, or the picturesque port city of Hakodate in Hokkaido, are perfect for strolling through the beautiful historic streets and parks in full bloom.” – trade arab news agency

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