Leaving Japan will get a little costlier for travelers starting this week.
Japan’s National Tax Agency Ministry in Finance on Monday instituted the “International Tourist Tax” on most international travelers leaving Japan. It is widely known as the “sayonara tax.”
Airlines and cruise lines must collect the tax from all passengers, with a few exceptions, upon departure and give it to the government of Japan. The passengers will have to pay the tax before they board the cruise or flight.
International tourists leaving Japan must pay 1,000 yen per departure. That is about $9.
Those who will not have to pay the tax include ship aircraft crew members, people being deported, those who are in Japan for less than 24 hours, cruise passengers who enter the country due to weather or other uncontrollable circumstances, and children younger than 2.
Diplomats and U.S. and United Nations armed forces personnel traveling for official purposes will also be exempt.
On its website, the agency says the tax will “expand and enhance Japan’s tourist infrastructure in an effort to make Japan the top tourist destination.”
Tokyo is scheduled to host the 2020 summer Olympics and will likely generate millions of dollars through this tax.
The proposal has been in debate since 2017. From the beginning, the International Air Transport Association, the global trade association for airlines, has lobbied against it, saying it would negatively affect tourism growth.
The Japanese governments says it wants to attract 40 million visitors by 2020. A departure tax, the association estimates, would derail that effort, leading to a reduction of up to 7 million passengers.
But the Japanese government says the tax is needed to “create a more comfortable, stress-free tourist environment, improve access to information about a wide variety of attractions of Japan, (and) develop tourist resources taking advantage of the unique cultural and natural assets of respective regions.”
Countries including Australia, China, Costa Rica, Lebanon, Mexico and Sweden charge departure taxes. In many cases, the taxes are included in the airfare. Malaysia will begin charging one in June.