Japan sees tourism boom after China erases COVID1-9 restrictions

 Wednesday, May 17, 2023 


Japan experienced a significant surge in visitors, reaching nearly 2 million in April, marking the highest number since the onset of the pandemic, according to official data released on Wednesday.

The relaxation of travel restrictions in China played a key role in this boost. The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) reported that the number of foreign tourists for both leisure and business purposes rose from 1.82 million in March to 1.95 million in April.

Despite the positive growth, April’s figures still represented a 33% decline compared to April 2019, which was prior to the implementation of travel restrictions amid the pandemic.

China’s decision to ease outbound travel restrictions contributed to the increase in visitors, as China alone accounted for a third of all visitors to Japan, with a record 9.5 million Chinese visitors in 2019.

However, a complete recovery may take time due to the ongoing shortage of flights. Asami Chung, the general manager of travel management company FCM Japan, highlighted the expectation of a continuous rise in international flights from China, with an 11% increase in capacity between March and April 2023.

Although there was a 43% increase in Chinese arrivals in April compared to March, the numbers remain well below 2019 levels. Japan gradually resumed visa-free travel for many countries in October, and further relaxations included the cessation of pre-arrival COVID-19 tests for travelers from China on April 5, and the complete removal of infection controls on May 8.

The revival of tourism in Japan, which was virtually halted for over two years, coincided with a substantial depreciation of the yen against the euro and U.S. dollar, making trips to Japan relatively cheaper.

Despite Tokyo still having the highest hotel rates in Asia, the weakened yen has positively influenced travel to the country, according to Asami Chung.

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