Japan says it will begin welcoming tour groups as a means of returning to full-fledged tourism.
The government's tourism agency announced Tuesday that small groups from Australia, Singapore, Thailand and the United States will be allowed to enter Japan later this month. The agency says the tours will be limited to fixed itineraries and must be accompanied at all times by tour guides, and that all participants must be triple-vaccinated.
The agency says the tours will be used to gain information to form COVID-19 guidelines for the travel industry, including hotels and travel agencies.
Foreign tourists have been banned from Japan since the start of the pandemic in 2020. The government has slowly begun easing restrictions for certain travelers such as foreign students, Japanese nationals and business travelers.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a speech delivered earlier this month in London that he will bring Japan's border controls in line with other wealthy nations as early as June, but gave no further details.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.