Japan, the last major ski nation with strict COVID travel restrictions in place, has announced significant easing of its rules.

Japan’s public broadcasting service, NHK, have reported that individual travellers will be permitted to enter the country again from September in the ongoing normalisation process of travel.

Previoulys, after having closed their borders for more than two years, Japan resumed accepting tourists from 98 countries on June 10th, but only if they arrived as part of escorted group tours.

This did see the numbers arriving from abroad jump from zero to nearly 8,000 in July, but that compared to nearly 2.4 million foreign nationals visiting the in January 2020, before the arrival of the virus and border closure.

Japan has also announced that triple vaccinated tourists from specific countries will no longer need to get a pre-departure COVID-19 test to enter Japan. Countries included in this change include the key ski market of Australia as well as China, Singapore and the USA.

The improvements come as ski holiday tour companies had been expressing increasing concern about the ongoing restrictions as a key period for holiday bookings arrived, warning that without restrictions easing well ahead of resorts actually opening for the season in November, it would be too late to save much of the 22-23 ski season.