Japan has welcomed back MICE and international business events as the country is now open to travellers from 68 countries with simplified health formalities and free visas on arrival.
Since 11th October, Japan has been allowing citizens from 68 countries and regions to visit Japan without a visa. Travellers can check the updated guidelines to entry on the Japan National Tourism Organisation’s website. Visitors are required to provide either a valid vaccination certificate (at least three doses) or a negative PCR test result (conducted within 72 hours before departure).
The positive effects of these more lenient rules are already being felt by the country’s tourism sector. In October, the total number of foreign arrivals to the country jumped by 2,154% compared to October 2021. Although this number is still 80% down compared to the same month pre-covid in 2019. In total, between January and October 2022 Japan welcomed close to 1.53 million foreign travellers, an increase of 617% when compared to 2021.
This new step towards Japan’s reopening allows the return of in-person international events, and offers the opportunity for event planners overseas to resume – or launch – their activity in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Throughout October and November, Japan saw the return of in-person international events. Large-scale conferences, such as the 29th Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Hypertension (ISH 2022) – which welcomed 1,500 onsite participants – and the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2022) with 3,800 onsite participants, successfully took place in hybrid formats.
Japan remains one of Asia’s most popular destinations for business travel and MICE events. According to a survey conducted by the Japanese Tourism Agency, the overall economic ripple effect of international MICE events in Japan is approximately $ 11.46 billion (equivalent to Yen1.59 trillion).
Large MICE events are back
According to statistics from international organisation the ICCA, the number of international conferences held in Japan was 527 in 2019, ranking it 8th in the world and 2nd in the Asia-Pacific region.
Additionally, Japanese cities have reaffirmed their attractiveness among associations, with several hosts of futures conferences having been recently announced. For example, Yokohama will host two global conferences in 2024. The 2024 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation – ICRA in May and the IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence – WCCI – to be held at from June 30 to July 5. Tokyo will also welcome the World Congress of the International Federation of Fertility Societies in 2025 (IFFS 2025), where more than 4,000 delegates are expected to gather. In the same year, the 27th Asia-Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology Congress – APLAR2025 – will be held in Fukuoka.
Yoko TAKANO – general director of JNTO’s Paris office said: “Thanks to hybrid event technologies, Japan hosted international events over the last two years, with on-site native participants and online participants from abroad. Today, it is a great pleasure to finally welcome back visitors from a large number of countries and have these irreplaceable face-to-face meetings.”
The number of incentive travels to Japan has been picking up from Europe too, after seeing a slight increase since the authorisation of package tours since June 2022.
“This authorisation a few months ago already allowed some incentive travels to take place, but the resuming of the visa waiver measures considerably facilitated the companies’ tasks and is accelerating their return”, explained Takano. “Japan’s meetings and events industry is now entering a new step in the post-Covid era. JNTO, through its 25 offices around the world, including 5 in Europe (London, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Frankfurt), is here to directly support local event professionals and to help them make the most of our wonderful destination.”
JNTO’s business meetings department, the Japan Convention Bureau, is dedicated to bringing event planners information and advice so they can create the most successful events in Japan. In addition to this help, it serves as a bridge between local Convention Bureaus, by helping them apply to their support programmes (e.g. financial support, etc.).