When Will Australia, New Zealand and Japan Reopen to Visitors in 2022? All three closed their borders to foreign visitors in March 2020, so in just two months, it will have been two years since most non-citizens and non-residents have been allowed to visit. While we don't have a crystal ball, we'll provide the current outlook, since we get this question nearly weekly.
Australia: Reopening February 21, 2022
Good news for prospective visitors to Australia: Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that Australia will reopen to fully vaccinated visitors starting February 21, 2022. Currently, the only foreign tourists that are allowed into Australia are from New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.
Japan: May Reopen Mid-Late 2022 But With Isolation or Quarantine Requirement
Many Japan watchers expected the country to either be open by now or have a phased reopening plan in place by now. Neither is true. Having worked in Japan and visited the country numerous times, I'd be surprised if the country reopens to foreign tourists (even fully vaccinated visitors), without any isolation restrictions, before Fall 2022.
There are a few factors at play. There's generally high public approval for the government's border restrictions, even though certain business and tourism interests, of course, are lobbying for fewer restrictions due to the negative impact the border restrictions are having on their businesses. But keep in mind that, while Japan is a very popular visitor destination, it accounts for just 1-2% of GDP, so there's not the internal pressure to open the country that there is in highly tourism-dependent economies. Finally, the country remains very conservative in many respects, especially vis-a-vis foreigners. Japan received 19,000 asylum requests in 2017, and Tokyo, Japan's capital and most cosmopolitan city of nearly 14 million, accepted just 20 of them. A 2016 survey found that while most of the Japanese surveyed didn't believe that immigration to Japan had increased, only 9% thought that immigration had any positive impact. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan prohibited foreign residents who were abroad at the time from returning to their homes in Japan, even though Japanese citizens were permitted to return, an outlier response among OECD countries.
New Zealand: May Reopen Late April 2022 But With 1 Week Self-Isolation
Per New Zealand's COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins, New Zealand plans to allow fully vaccinated foreign visitors into New Zealand from April 30, 2022. Fully vaccinated visitors will need to undertake pre-departure and post-arrival COVID-19 testing and also self-isolation for seven days. The isolation requirement will preclude most leisure travelers, favoring retirees and those with ample time to spend in New Zealand and make the week-long isolation worth it.
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