A Signature Media Publication

Japan: A new landscape of exploration for Arab travellers

The Muslim traveller is becoming a new target for Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO). The organization is evaluating options on how to best target the GCC countries.

As Polly Stannard, marketing and communications officer says, “Our focus is very clear. Statistics show an increasing number of travellers from many GCC countries. From 2011, every year there has been an increase of tourist from UAE and KSA. The numbers for KSA has doubled while from UAE it has tripled.”

The destination is keen to highlight special facets like halal menus and hotels rooms suitable for Muslim travellers. “The government on their part has launched a dedicated website for Muslim travellers focusing on halal-friendly restaurants, Muslim-friendly hotels, list of mosques in Japan and facilities with prayer rooms,” adds Stannard.

Japan as a tourist destination has it all from mountains to beaches to alpine forest to even lakes. “Kyoto has been very active in the GCC market. These have also gained the numbers. The city is currently promoting visits to the Bamboo forest for healing properties. This is very popular among GCC travellers,” says Stannard.

On a very recent note, the UAE and Japan signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) on easing travel for UAE citizens to Japan without a pre-entry visa requirement. The first MoU exempts UAE citizens with the diplomatic and special passports, on official mission in Japan, without specifying a time period for their stay, from obtaining a pre-entry visa to enter the country. The same passport holders who wish to travel to Japan for tourism and business purposes can also enter without a pre-entry visa, and stay for a maximum period of 90 days from their date of entry.

The second MoU eases entry procedures for UAE citizens carrying regular passports to Japan for tourism, business and official reasons. They are required to present their passports to the Japanese Embassy in Abu Dhabi, or General Consulate of Japan in Dubai, or any diplomatic or representative office of Japan in any other country, to register their date of entry into Japan through an electronic sticker that is placed on the passport, with a validity period of three years or for the remaining period of their passport’s validity, which is free of charge. This sticker allows the UAE citizens to remain in Japan for a maximum of 30 days.