Published on : Thursday, July 20, 2017
The number of tourists visiting Japan hit a record high of 7.2m in the second quarter of 2017, propelled by a jump in visitors from neighboring Asian nations. Tourist numbers in the three months from April to July were up 21.1 per cent compared with the same period the year before, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.
Tourist spending during this period increased 13 per cent year-on-year to a record ¥1.8tn ($15.8bn). Inbound tourism, one of the main pillars for Japan’s economic growth in recent years is experiencing continuous growth, fuelled by recent Yen weakness. According to Japan Tourism Agency, “Spending by tourists from Korea, Hong Kong and other countries was higher than last year, pushing up the total.” The number of tourists in the quarter from South Korea rose 68 per cent year-on-year to 1.7m, from Hong Kong 38 per cent to 593,000 and Taiwan 8 per cent to 1.3m. But, visitor numbers from China, the mainstay of Japan’s tourism boom, increased just 1.8 per cent to 1.6m, while there was robust growth in visitors from the US, up 15 per cent to 404,000.
Japan achieved its target of 20m annual tourists by 2020 five years early and its new goal is now attracting 40m tourists.
The government of Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Prime Minister, has placed tourism at the centre of its growth strategy. Its decision to relax visa restrictions on visitors from China and other developing Asian countries is one of the biggest factors behind the boom. Culinary tourism is also very important for Japan, along with inbound retail tourists, particularly young Chinese.
Spending per visitor to Japan for the quarter fell 6.7 per cent compared with the same period last year to ¥149,248 ($1,332), reflecting an increased proportion of more cost-conscious, short-haul visitors from countries such as South Korea. However, spending by Chinese tourists, whose shopping habits have provided a lifeline to Tokyo department stores, rose 2.5 per cent to ¥225,485 ($2,013).