Japan to charge departing travellers ‘sayonara tax’ from 2019

Japan will be implementing a 1,000 yen ‘sayonara tax’ from early 2019.
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Travellers to Japan will soon have to pay a levy when departing the land of the rising sun.

The 1,000 yen ($9.37) tax will kick in starting Jan 7 in 2019, and applies to each person, including locals, leaving the country by air or sea.

According to Nikkei Asian Review, the tax is part of an effort to raise 40 billion yen annually to bolster tourism.

According to a bill approved by the Diet on Wednesday (Apr 11), the “sayonara tax” will be charged at the time the traveller buys air or sea tickets, with infants and toddlers under two years old exempted. Travellers who are in Japan for less than 24 hours will also be exempted from the tax.

Citing vice minister of finance, Minoru Kihara, Nikkei Asian Review reported that the government has not yet decided how exactly the revenue will be used in fiscal 2019 and beyond.

A report in The Straits Times said that the revenue generated would be used to boost tourism infrastructure and promote travel destinations in rural parts of Japan.

Some of the plans include free wireless internet services on public transport and e-payment system implementation.

It will also be used for spending on global tourism campaigns, the daily said.

Japan was host to a record 28.69 million tourists in 2017, and aims to bring in 40 million visitors in 2020, the same year Tokyo is hosting the Summer Olympics.