Japan Ski Resorts, COVID-19 and the Winter Season



By justine@japanskiexperience.com | Mon, 28 Jun 2021
Categories: Niseko, Hakuba, Covid-19
Japan Ski Resorts, COVID-19 and the Winter Season
***UPDATED 28th JUN 2021***
What a year it has been. It is hard to imagine anyone or anything not being affected in some way by the COVID-19 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 (short-stay business travellers who must follow strict entry protocols) must self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days and avoid public transit.
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 2020/21 Japan ski season and hold tight until 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 March, the start of the fourth wave which peaked in mid-May 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.

Japan does still plan to carry out the Tokyo Olympic Games, planned for 24th July - 9th August 2021.  Athletes were prioritized in the vaccine rollout and began receiving their first dose in early June, with the plan to inoculate all athletes by the start of the Olympics

While lagging behind other countries on the vaccine rollout initially, Japan has been ramping up efforts vigorously, with up to 1 million doses being administered per day from late June 2021, one month earlier than projected.  At the time of writing, about 17% of Japan's 126 million people have received at least one dose, and almost 6% has been double vaccinated.  The projections are to have everyone over the age of 16 vaccinated by September, and the government has secured enough doses in order to do so by then.  In all likelihood, the vaccination rate will accelerate further beyond this projection. 

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 - but the excitement is building for a return to 'normal' for the 2021/22 Japan ski season.

Looking Ahead
Some of 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 2021/22 season!
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 2021/22 Japan ski holiday!


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