Deregulation at last! What are the “3 conditions” of recommended overseas travel destinations now? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Deregulation at last! What are the “3 conditions” of recommended overseas travel destinations now?

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PCR testing” within 72 hours prior to departure upon return is now “waived!

It has finally become easier to travel overseas. It was recently announced that PCR testing within 72 hours prior to departure from Japan, which was previously required upon entry into Japan, will be waived for travelers arriving in Japan on September 7, provided that they have received the prescribed three doses of the new coronavirus vaccine. The risk of being stranded in Japan for some time after a positive test is eliminated is very significant. Moreover, the cost of testing, which is not inexpensive, will also reduce travel expenses.

Prime Minister Kishida announcing the easing of waterfront measures (Photo: Afro)

However, the yen is currently at an unprecedented low of almost 140 yen to the dollar, making it more expensive to travel anywhere overseas. Furthermore, the fuel surcharge added to airline tickets is at an unprecedented high.

Still, for those who have wanted to travel abroad for the past two and a half years but have been unable to do so, the feeling of “finally” being able to do so must be strong. The following is a list of “Asian” destinations recommended for “rehabilitation travel” by a travel professional who has traveled abroad four times with the new COVID-19 crisis.

Condition 1: No entry restrictions

Asian countries and regions that have almost eliminated entry restrictions now include Thailand, Vietnam,Malaysia,Singapore, the Philippines, andIndonesia, for example. In general, if a person has completed the prescribed vaccinations, there is no need for a pre-entry inspection, a negative certificate, or quarantine after entering a country.

In South Korea, following August, entry without a visa for tourism purposes will be permitted in September and October. This is a limited-time special measure. The requirement for inspection prior to departure from Japan will also be abolished from September 3. However, visitors will still be required to undergo a PCR inspection (at their own expense) at the airport of arrival within one day of entering Japan.

On the other hand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, andMacau, which are popular among Japanese travelers, have not yet fully opened their borders, although entry has been eased. These countries and regions in the Greater China region may suddenly change their entry rules. In particular, it would be wise to wait and see what happens in Hong Kong, Macau, and other mainland China-related areas, even if entry is eased.

Merlion Park in Singapore; as of June 2022, tourists were often seen as non-Chinese and non-Japanese (image: Shikama Aki).

Condition 2] There is an abundance of LCC flights that do not require “fuel surcharges.

The fuel surcharge added to airline tickets now continues to reach all-time highs.

For JAL, it ranges from 7,700 yen to 37,400 yen one-way in Asia for purchases made on or after October 1, 2022. For example, a round-trip flight between Japan and Bangkok, Thailand, would cost about 60,000 yen in fuel surcharges alone, about the same as ANA’s. If purchased by September 30, one-way fares in Asia range from 5,900 yen to 30,500 yen.

Fuel surcharge (revised: Zone O) after October 1 for flights departing from Japan, per person, per sector, one-way (from JAL press release).

Both ANA and JAL require payment of fuel surcharges and immigration taxes even when using miles. Even with award tickets, you will have to pay 60,000 yen for a round trip to Bangkok.

Therefore, we recommend using airlines that do not charge fuel surcharges.

Many low-cost carriers (LCCs) do not charge fuel surcharges. Examples include “ZIPAIR Tokyo ” (JAL affiliate), ” peach” ( ANA affiliate), “Scoot ” (Singapore Airlines affiliate) , and“Jetstar” ( Qantas Airways affiliate).

ZIPAIR Tokyo, a JAL-affiliated medium-haul LCC (image: ZipAir)

For ZipAir, one-way Narita-Bangkok flights start at 12,500 yen. A round-trip is as low as 25,000 yen including fuel surcharge. The total cost is about 32,000 yen, including taxes of less than 7,000 yen for a round-trip flight. This fare did not come up in a trial search, and the lowest price was just over 50,000 yen, but it is still significantly cheaper than the major airlines.

Jetstar’s Tokyo (Narita) – Cairns route will resume service on July 22, 2022, after a two-year and four-month absence (image: Jetstar)

Major Asian countries and regions currently served by direct LCC flights from Japan include [ South Korea],[Thailand],[Singapore],[Malaysia],[Vietnam], and[Philippines]. Further afield, there are also flights to Hawaii and the Cairns and Gold Coast of Australia.

Even if LCCs charge fuel surcharges, they are often cheaper than the major airlines. Please check it out.

Condition 3】Hotels have good cost performance

The cost of travel together with airfare is the cost of local accommodation. In the near future, there are many reasonably priced hotels in Korea, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia.

Kuala Lumpur,Bangkok, andHo Chi Minh City were the top three cities in Expedia’s December 2016 ranking of cities with low-cost five-star hotel accommodations. Kuala Lumpur, at the top of the list, is less than one-fourth the price of Tokyo, and hotels under 4-star rating are even cheaper.

The ranking shows hotel prices in major overseas cities; the data is somewhat out of date as of December 2016, but it provides a rough indication (source: Expedia).

In the case of Kuala Lumpur, Expedia’s price for October 1-2, 2022, shows the five-star Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur at 12,346 yen, the JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur at 14,447 yen, the Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur at 21,415 yen, and so on (all per room per night). All prices are per room per night, excluding tax). Although the prices are slightly higher than before, they are still cheaper than in other Asian countries, Europe, and the United States.

When I traveled to Singapore in June 2022, I was surprised at the steep rise in hotel prices. Over the past five years, the price of hotels has been rising rapidly, and even 3-star hotels cost close to 30,000 yen per night. If you try to find a hotel for around 10,000 yen, you will only find places with “no windows in the rooms” and “very low reviews (ratings). The number of capsule hotels is increasing every year, indicating that there is a great demand for low-priced accommodation.

Hotel expenses account for a surprisingly large proportion of travel expenses. Nowadays, it is also important to choose “cosy hotel” destinations.

Remember to keep in mind that “coronas are not fully converged.

Even if there are no more tests before returning to Japan, there are still some points to keep in mind. First, if possible, complete three doses of vaccination. In some countries and regions, you may not be allowed to enter the country if you have not been vaccinated. It is convenient to have an app on your smartphone to obtain proof of vaccination. Don’t forget to register for the latest information before you travel to Japan. Fast Track, which completes part of the quarantine procedures prior to entry into Japan, will continue to be available on “MySOS” after September 7.

Be sure to purchase “Corona Cover” overseas travel insurance. If you have symptoms of fever when checking in for an airplane, you may be denied boarding because of suspicion of new-type corona infection. The new coronas have not been completely contained overseas, and there is no possibility of being stranded in a foreign country. Additional accommodation, inspection, and ticket change costs are not cheap. The number of flights to Japan is still lower than before Corona, and it is not always possible to return home immediately.

International arrivals at Narita Airport Terminal 2 in early August 2022. The number of Japanese travelers has increased (image: Shikama Aki).

Over the past two and a half years, the situation in Japan and abroad has changed dramatically. It is best to assume that the common sense of the pre-Corona era is no longer applicable. Entry rules for each country and region are also changing all the time. It is necessary to collect information in advance and deal with problems as they arise.

Information and data in this article are current as of September 1, 2022.

Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Immigration Health Verification Center, To all those entering or returning to Japan

  • Text and Photographs Aki Shikama

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