Foreign tourist visits to Tokyo fall for first time

Kyodo News

The number of visits by foreign tourists to Tokyo dropped in 2009 for the first time since the metropolitan government began compiling such data in 2004, sliding 10.8 percent to 4.76 million, a recent survey showed.

The metropolitan government’s Tourism Division attributed the decline to the economic slowdown following the global financial crisis since late 2008 and to the spread of the new H1N1 strain of swine flu.

Foreign tourists spent about ¥281.6 billion in Tokyo last year, down 15.9 percent, it said. Spending per foreign visitor staying in Tokyo also shrank, by about ¥10,000 to ¥99,000.

Tokyo received 420 million visits by travelers in 2009, down 2.3 percent. Of these, people who visited Tokyo from other parts of Japan accounted for some 416 million visits, down 2.2 percent.

But the Tourism Division expects a recovery in foreign visitors for 2010, following the easing of visa regulations July 1 for individual Chinese tourists and the expansion of international flight services at Haneda airport.