TOKYO: From January 2019, travellers leaving Japan will have to pay a departure tax of ¥1,000 (US$9.40), Japanese media reported on Wednesday (Apr 11).
The Diet, or Parliament, has passed the legislation and the new levy, coined the "sayonara tax", is scheduled to be implemented on Jan 7, 2019.
Travellers, both Japanese and foreign, will be required to pay the tax when they leave Japan by plane or ship, effectively adding to airfares and ship fares. Children under the age of two and transit passengers leaving Japan within 24 hours of their arrival will be exempted.
The tax, which is expected to raise about ¥43 billion a year, will be used to improve infrastructure and services such as installing facial recognition gates as well as providing multilingual guides at national parks and cultural sites.
The revenue will also go towards promoting tourism.
Japan has in recent years seen a boost in tourist arrivals, with the number expected to increase in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The government is hoping to increase its foreign visitors from 28.69 million in 2017 to 40 million in 2020, Jiji Press reported.
The Diet had on Tuesday passed a Bill limiting the use of the departure tax to tourism-related projects, in response to concerns that the funds could be diverted elsewhere.
The departure tax is the first permanent tax adopted by Japan since 1992, reported Kyodo. Departure levies have already been introduced in countries such as Australia and South Korea.