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Updated February 21st, 2024 at 14:06 IST

Japan's tourism rebounds strongly, matches pre-pandemic records

While tourism from China has yet to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels, there are encouraging signs of resurgence.

Reported by: Business Desk
Japan
Japan | Image:Pexels
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Japan welcomed over 2.69 million visitors in January, according to data from the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO). The figure, although slightly lower than December's record-breaking 2.73 million arrivals, matches the pace set in 2019, hinting at a potential record year for tourism in the country.

The steady influx of foreign visitors marks the eighth consecutive month that Japan has surpassed the 2 million mark, signalling a robust resurgence for the tourism industry after a prolonged hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, Japan saw over 25 million visitors enter the country, buoyed by factors such as the yen's rapid depreciation, which made Japan an attractive and affordable destination compared to many others.

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In 2021, tourism expenditure in Japan surpassed 5 trillion yen ($33.32 billion) for the first time, surpassing government targets and underscoring the sector's importance to the country's economy.

Although January's arrivals were impacted by a major earthquake in Ishikawa Prefecture on January 1, the figures remain on par with 2019 levels when Japan experienced a record-breaking 39.9 million tourist arrivals. Travellers from South Korea, Taiwan, and Australia reached an all-time high for any single month, highlighting the diversified sources of tourism for Japan.

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While tourism from China has yet to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels, there are encouraging signs of resurgence. Chinese visitor numbers in January increased by 33% compared to the previous month, with indications of growing interest in leisurely travel experiences, dubbed as the "chill stay" trend. This shift suggests a departure from the traditional pattern of rushed shopping sprees towards a more relaxed approach, allowing travelers to immerse themselves in local culture and attractions.

The positive momentum in tourism has also translated into strong sales for luxury goods and duty-free items, as noted by department store operators Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings and J.Front Retailing, particularly during the Lunar New Year period.

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Teppei Kawanishi, General Manager at Honichi Lab, a travel industry consultancy, highlighted the evolving preferences of Chinese tourists, emphasizing a shift towards slower-paced exploration and immersive experiences akin to locals.

(With Reuters inputs)
 

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Published February 21st, 2024 at 14:06 IST

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