Tourism industry speeds up its preparations with international flights set to resume in June

New Chitose Airport International Terminal Building has remained empty due to the cancelation of scheduled flights for over two years. Hopes are high for a return to the normal bustle once flights resume. May 27

Prime Minister Kishida Fumio’s announcement on May 26 regarding plans to lift the ban on foreign visitors to Japan, and those to resume international flights to New Chitose Airport by the end of June have been welcomed by economic organizations and tourism officials in the city of Chitose. The number of scheduled international passenger flights to and from the airport has been zero since March 2020, and expectations are high for the revitalization of the airport and full-scale economic activity. Accommodation and tourist facilities are now considering hasty preparations in order to be able to accept overseas visitors.
In a comment on May 27, Yamaguchi Kotaro, Mayor of Chitose – which will provide 400 million yen in assistance to revitalize the airport this fiscal year – welcomed the government policy, saying, “We are very happy to see the resumption of international flights. We have high hopes that the airport will return to its usual lively state.” Iriguchi Hiromi, president of the Chitose Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was also pleased, saying, “The vitality of the airport is good for both the population and the local economy.” However, with regard to the daily limit of 20,000 foreign arrivals, he added, “we would request a further relaxation if circumstances allow.”
 A guide at a tourist information desk for overseas visitors said, “We are likely to receive many inquiries about infection control measures and other matters different from those before the COVID pandemic. We want to confirm the latest information and give the most appropriate advice.”
The airlines are also increasing their preparations. In FY 2019, before the pandemic, ANA was commissioned to provide ground support services to overseas airlines on 12 routes, including Taiwan and South Korea. Mr. Uematsu, CEO of ANA New Chitose Airport, stressed, “We will prepare our staff and proactively accept the role of providing ground support services.”
The tourism industry is already involved in preparations, and the Chitose Tourist Association intends to work on refining its products in preparation for the Adventure Tourism World Summit to be held in Hokkaido in September of next year. According to a spokesperson from Chitose Outlet Mall Rera, a large-scale commercial facility near the airport, the information center for overseas tourists has already received many inquiries regarding groups from overseas, including those from Taiwan, Korea and the like.


New Chitose Airport International Terminal Building