Japan Ski Resorts, COVID-19 and the Winter Season

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By justine@japanskiexperience.com | Fri, 26 Nov 2021
Categories: Niseko, Hakuba, Covid-19
Japan Ski Resorts, COVID-19 and the Winter Season
 
***UPDATED 18th NOV 2021***
 
It is hard to believe that we are approaching 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Almost all of us have, in some way, been affected by this pandemic, and Japan (and most notably Japan ski resorts such as Niseko and Hakuba) is no exception.
 
 
Japan Border Closures
 
Japan officially closed its borders to international visitors in May 2020 to restrict the spread of COVID-19. The border restrictions mean that virtually no foreign tourists are allowed entry into Japan, and those with exemptions (mostly short-stay business travellers) still must follow restricted entry protocols and quarantines upon arrival (thankfully just last week reduced from 14 to 3 days).
 
This means of course that all of those Japan powder lovers travelling from abroad will have to put their Japan ski trip dreams on hiatus for the until we know more about when Japan will start welcoming visitors for the the 2021/22. For the majority of would-be visitors, being ‘disappointed’ is an understatement! 
 
 
 
Japan and COVID-19
 
For a long while, Japan seemed to be ahead of the game on COVID-19 infections with extremely few cases per capita, and an exceptionally low death rate considering Japan’s aging population. Japan experienced a much smaller wave than most other countries initially and then experienced a small second wave in August. Things started improving again until late November when the country experienced a sharp peak and a third wave of infections. Various lockdown measures in large municipalities helped to get the third wave under control quickly, and things were looking up again until late July 2021, the start of the fifth wave which peaked in late August and has been on a sharp decline since, thanks to the strict lockdown measures imposed in some of the larger municipalities including Tokyo and Osaka.

After some initial criticism, Japan did end up carrying out the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, and in the end, many say that the Olympics were carried out successfully and safely.

While lagging behind other countries on the vaccine rollout initially, at the time of writing, Japan has not only caught up, but have in fact the highest percentage of fully vaccinated citizens (76% and climbing) out of all G7 countries.  In all likelihood, the vaccination rate will accelerate further as we head into the winter season, and booster shots will likely be given starting in December.  This is some very positive news and a hopeful sign that Japan travel restrictions will begin easing in the coming weeks and months.


Go-To Travel Campaign and Japan Ski Resorts

In an aid to reboot the economy damaged by the coronavirus, the Japanese government launched the Go To Travel Campaign in July, which offered big discounts on travel inside Japan for domestic residents. The campaign had largely contributed to ski resorts such as Niseko and Hakuba being able to operate as close to normal as possible early on, given the increase in domestic visitors compared to a regular ski season, who may not usually book ski holidays in Japan. With COVID numbers increasing from November, the government suspended the Go-To Travel campaign in December with no immediate plans to relaunch.

 
Some Japan ski resorts such as Hakuba saw record numbers of visitors during their green season (hiking the Japan alps - a fantastic green-season activity in Nagano), a trend which many property owners were hoping would continue over the ski season as well.
 

Niseko and Hakuba Ski Resorts 2020/21 Season
 
Japan ski resorts experienced a fantastic 2020/21 winter ski season, with an incredible amount of snowfall. A rather ironic twist of events - making far-away observers drool with envy - and the excitement is building for a return to 'normal' for the 2021/22 Japan ski season.
 
Lots of snow in Niseko
 

Looking Ahead - When will Japan re-open for travel?
 
Some of us were are lucky to be in the thick of the powder dumps the Japan ski resorts received over the 2020/21 winter ski season. However, most of us had to dreamily watch from afar, making a mental list of all of the incredible Japan ski experiences we can store for the upcoming 2021/22 Japan ski season!
 
With a much higher percentage of the population now inoculated and the extended lockdowns finally making a difference in terms of infection rates, officials are hoping to be able to ease restrictions even further in the coming weeks.  We are optimistic that this will mean that the Japan 2021/22 winter ski season will be open to international visitors once again.  You can read more by following the links on how COVID has affected Japan, Niseko and Hakuba ski resorts,
 
Because of the ongoing uncertainties arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, many NisekoHakubaKiroro and Furano accommodations are offering the chance to reserve your 2021/22 stay with no deposit payment required until later in the year. This allows you to lock in some incredible early-bird discounts without any risk. 
 
Get in touch with us now to enquire about your flexible booking terms for your Japan ski resort accommodation!
 
Snow in Niseko

 

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