Duty-Free Shops could open in arrival areas soon

International airports, including Narita and presumably Naha, could soon find themselves offering up duty free goods in international arrival areas.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has the concept in its proposals for fiscal 2013 tax systems reform.  Approval of the tourism ministry plans would allow the nation’s duty-free shops to open outlets in advance of arrival areas, permitting travelers to make purchases before going through immigration and customs procedures.

Travelers entering Japan would be allowed to purchase duty-free goods such as tobacco, alcohol and cosmetics when entering the country.

The current rules permit duty-free stores to operate only in departure areas.  People who purchased duty-free items before leaving Japan must carry them on their trips, or make the purchases while overseas.  The tourism ministry’s new plan also includes establishing a new system to allow people to store duty-free goods purchased before leaving the country.  That storage would take place at an airport facility and travelers would be allowed to retrieve them in the arrival area upon their return to Japan.

An increasing number of people have been purchasing brand-name goods at overseas duty-free shops over the past several years due to the inflated yen.  The ministry wants to make the change to keep some of that money at home.  Japan Tourism Marketing Company says 13.5% of Japanese travelers shopped at duty free stores before their departure in 2010, compared with 20.6% doing their shopping at overseas airports.

Perfumes and cosmetics were purchased by 49.5% of travelers in shops outside airports during their trips in 2010, compared with only 37.6% in 2008.  The Tourism Ministry says 62 foreign countries and territories, including China, Hong Kong and Singapore, allow duty=free stores to operate in arrival areas of their international airports.