Travelers to Japan will soon have to pay a tax — not on entering the country, but on leaving it. Maybe it’s because Japan loves visitors so much it wants them to stay forever. Or maybe (definitely) it’s because it needs the money for infrastructure improvements and technological advances. The new bill, passed Wednesday by Japanese parliament, will take effect on January 7th, 2019, and will add a fee of $9.37 to departure tickets via plane or ship. It applies not only to international travelers, but to Japanese citizens as well, excluding only those who are in the country for less than 24 hours, and children under two years old.
The “Sayonara Tax” is expected to raise around $402 million, which will be reinvested to make travelers’ lives easier. The money will be used to help increase tourism and promote travel within rural Japan, including upgrades such as facial recognition in airports and free Wi-Fi on public transportation.
The new measure is partly in response to Japan’s recent surge in tourism. In 2017, a record 28.69 million tourists visited the country, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hopes that number will increase to 40 million by 2020, during the Tokyo Summer Olympics.
H/T: Condé Nast Traveler