Thursday, September 19, 2013
Foreign Visitors Hit Record High For August
TOKYO (Nikkei)--The number of foreign travelers to Japan reached 906,700 in August, up 17% on the year, as a weak yen and eased visa requirements helped bring in more Asian tourists.
The figure, announced by the Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO) on Wednesday, represents a record high for the month of August.
The increase was particularly notable among Asian travelers. With low-cost carriers now offering service to Japan, the number of visitors from Taiwan rose 51% to 194,900, while those from Thailand doubled to 23,900 after visa requirements for Southeast Asia were relaxed in July. Travelers from Malaysia also jumped 42% to 11,000.
Meanwhile, the number of South Korean visitors rose 7% to 215,600, a significantly smaller increase than the 30-40% surge seen in the past several months. The radioactive water leak at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant appears to have discouraged prospective travelers.
The number of visitors from China dropped 15% on the year to 162,500. The decline had shrunk from 32% in July, but bilateral tensions flared up over the Senkaku Islands dispute continue to cast a shadow over Japanese tourism.
The January-August tally was 6.86 million, with the annual total on course to reach 10.14 million, exceeding the government's target of 10 million, according to the JNTO.
The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will "provide a strong tail wind" for efforts to bring in more foreign guests, Shigeto Kubo, Japan Tourism Agency commissioner, told a news conference that day. To accommodate more arrivals, the government will bolster airport capabilities in the greater Tokyo area and expedite immigration processing, Kubo said.
(The Nikkei, Sept. 19 morning edition)