Japan's licensed tour guides still face tough times

An association of licensed tour guides in Japan says it has yet to receive requests to escort foreign tourists despite the reopening of the country's borders.

Officials of the Japan Federation of Certified Guides, or JFG, say they have only received a few orders so far and they are all for tours next year.

The organization has about 1,000 nationally licensed guide interpreters which it sends to tour agencies and hotels.

The number of foreign arrivals is presently capped at 20,000 per day. Tourists are restricted to escorted trips arranged by travel agencies.

The JFG says that people overseas are saying they will refrain from visiting Japan under the current conditions.
A survey of the federation's members last year found that nearly 80 percent of respondents had almost no income from tour guiding.

JFG President Matsumoto Yoshie said "We can't afford to be patient. Some of us might have to change jobs, some have already closed their business."

Matsumoto said the situation remains difficult as individual tourists are not yet allowed to enter the country.