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Nearly half a million foreign visitors arrive in Japan as tourism surges

REUTERS file photo
Foreign travellers walk upon their arrival at the Haneda International Airport in Tokyo October 11, 2022.

The number of foreign visitors to Japan in October is estimated to have totaled 498,600, surging to 22.5 times the level in the same period last year, the Japan National Tourism Organization announced Wednesday.

The surge came as the government drastically eased its COVID-19 border control measures and resumed accepting individual tourists from abroad on Oct. 11, while the weak yen helped attract foreign tourists.

By country and region, the largest number of visitors came from South Korea at 122,900, followed by the United States at 53,200, Hong Kong at 36,200, Taiwan at 35,000 and Thailand at 34,100.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

“The relaxation of border control measures on the back of the weak yen resulted [in this figure],” Wada Koichi, the head of the Japan Tourism Agency, said at a regular press conference held on the day.

However, the figure is only about 20% of the number in October 2019 before the pandemic began. Although people from China used to account for about 30% of the total number of foreign visitors to Japan, only 21,500 from the country visited in October this year because of China’s rigorous zero-COVID policy.

The government resumed accepting foreign tourists to the nation in July for the first time in nearly two years after the pandemic began. However, recovery had been slow partly because only tourists traveling from low-risk countries and regions who had signed up for guided package tours were allowed to enter Japan, in addition to complicated visa procedures.

The government aims to recover the number of foreign visitors to Japan to the 2019 level by 2025. The Japan Tourism Agency plans to increase both foreign visitors to the nation and their spending by supporting the resumption of more international flights to Japan, as well as strengthening public relations to encourage travel to the nation.