Foreign visitors staying away in droves

Kyodo News

The number of foreign visitors fell dramatically in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and nuclear crisis, data by immigration authorities showed Wednesday.

Between March 11 and March 31, an average of some 3,400 foreign nationals a day entered Japan via Narita International Airport, down 75 percent from the level of March last year, the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau said.

In Osaka, some 1,700 people on average arrived at Kansai International Airport daily from March 18 to 23, down more than 50 percent from the predisaster level, according to data by the Osaka Regional Immigration Bureau.

The disasters have already taken a toll on the tourism and retail sectors, which depend to a large extent on foreign visitors, amid a series of cancellations of tours and hotel reservations.

The sharp drop in the number of visitors also came as foreign governments advised their citizens to refrain from traveling to Japan as the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station continues to spew radiation.

Before the quake, the number of foreign visitors had been on an uptrend, with a record 8.61 million visitors recorded in 2010, although 2009 was a bad year due to the spread of the H1N1 influenza.