TL;DR – Sayonara to ¥1,000 (SGD $12.20) as you leave the country.
Remember one of our articles in which we shared why there is a need to build Changi Terminal 5? Obviously anyone in their right mind would have come to realize that this game plan has more pros than cons for Singapore.
Well, at least Japan share the same sentiments as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recognizes that tourism is an important pillar of the nation’s growth strategy, and a trump card for regional revitalization – more so when Tokyo has been elected as the host city for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.
With the influx of foreign tourists visiting Japan in recent years – a record of 28.69 million tourists in 2017, a 19.3% increase from the previous year, the government aims to double the target to 40 million tourists annually by 2020 and 60 million tourists by 2030.
To capitalize on the tourism boom, the Japan Tourism Agency mooted a national departure tax of up to ¥1,000 (S$12.20) last year.
Alas, on 11th April this year, the Japanese parliament passed a Bill on the new levy, a “sayonara levy” of ¥1,000 (SGD $12.20) on travellers leaving Japan from January 2019.
The new measure applies to both international and Japanese travellers, excluding toddlers under two and passengers who are transiting in Japan for less than 24 hours.
Tourism Vision to support the Future of Japan
The revenue from the tax, which is estimated to amount to ¥43 billion (SGD $526.6 million) per fiscal year, will be used as funding for tourism-related projects such as tourism infrastructure and promote travel destinations in rural Japan, as well as fund global tourism campaigns.
According to the legislation, the government also plan to use the funds to drive technological advancements – for instance, facial recognition at airport gates, to get public transport operators to roll out electronic payment options and to expand free Wi-Fi on public transportation.
Just so you know, Japan is far from being the first country to impose such departure tax. Australia charges a AUD $60 (SGD $60.90) cost for the departure of a person from the country, while Thailand imposes a 700 baht (SGD $29.40) departure tax.
So technically speaking, SGD $12.20 doesn’t sound too bad after all, does it?