• Economy

Visitors Back to 66% of Pre-COVID Level

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A crowd of tourists stand at the head of Takeshita-street in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, on April 19.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The estimated number of visitors to Japan in March stood at 1,817,500, reaching 65.8% of the number marked four years earlier, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Japan National Tourism Organization said Wednesday.

The latest number represented a 27-fold increase from a year before and a surge from the previous month’s 1.47 million, backed by an increase in visitors from other parts of Asia, the United States, Europe, Australia and the Middle East.

Demand for trips to Japan rose thanks to the cherry blossom season and the resumption of international cruises that include stops at Japanese ports.

Excluding those from mainland China, where the recovery was sluggish due to the Chinese government’s restrictions on travel to Japan, the total number of visitors to Japan returned to 84.2% of the prepandemic level.

The government organization’s latest report on visitor numbers also shows that the pace of recovery following Japan’s drastic easing of border controls in autumn last year is picking up.

Last month, the estimated number of visitors from South Korea totaled 466,800, followed by 278,900 from Taiwan, 203,000 from the United States and 144,900 from Hong Kong.

The number of visitors from the United States was 15.0% above the March 2019 level. Visitors from Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain recovered to about 10% to 15% fewer than the prepandemic levels.

Visitors from mainland China, which accounted for 30% of overall visitors to Japan before the pandemic, numbered 75,700, 89.0% below the prepandemic level.

Spending by visitors in Japan totaled ¥1,014.6 billion in January-March, 11.9% below the prepandemic level, the Japan Tourism Agency said.

The government will lower its classification of COVID-19 under the infectious disease law to Category V, the same as seasonal influenza, on May 8, planning to end its COVID-19 border control measures including the mandatory submission rule for certificates of three COVID-19 vaccinations.

The shift will have huge benefits, a tourism industry source said, expressing hopes for further growth in visitor numbers.