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Japan announces exit tax for tourists

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Japan has just announced a tourism tax which every traveller exiting the nation will have to start paying from next year onwards. The new tax has already been christened sayonara, which translates into English as bye bye, and will be applied to both Japanese and international travellers when they leave Japan.

Although most travellers leave Japan by air, tourists departing by ship will have to pay sayonara departure tax too. The tax will be built into ticket prices and is effective for all departures from the 7 January 2019. The only exemptions from the tax are travellers with layovers in Japan of less than 24 hours and children less than two years old.

Unlike the sky-high maximum of £156 Brits pay in Airport Departure Tax (APD) when leaving the UK, Japan's sayonara tax will not make much of a hole in passengers' bank balances. The tax is JPY1,000 which is the equivalent of around £6.50 at today's exchange rates.

Estimations have shown income from the departure tax could top the JPY43 billion (£284 million) mark. Also unlike the UK and many other countries in which departure taxes paid are gobbled up by the seemingly bottomless pits of national treasuries, Japan's will be put to good use.

Japan says the funds raised will be used to improve transport and tourist infrastructure. Initial proposals for utilising the income are to add facial recognition equipment at international airports, bring in multi-lingual guides at key tourism sites and launch complimentary wireless internet on public transport.