Number of foreign visitors to Japan down 2.4% in January

Kyodo

The number of foreign visitors dropped 2.4 percent in January from a year earlier to an estimated 669,000, the Japan National Tourism Organization said.

Visitors from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia decreased because the lunar new year holidays fell in February this year instead of January like last year, the JNTO said Tuesday.

The number of visitors from China plunged 47.6 percent to 72,500, the biggest drop since September when the territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands, claimed by China, flared up.

Visitors from Taiwan declined 11.6 percent and those from Hong Kong fell 35.6 percent.

“The decrease in Chinese visitors wasn’t influenced by the timing of the lunar new year only, but also by the negative impact from the Senkaku issue,” said Norifumi Ide, a commissioner in the Japan Tourism Agency. He said he expects the impact to decrease gradually.

By country and region, the largest number of visitors in January came from South Korea at 234,500, up 35.2 percent amid the yen’s depreciation.

The number of visitors from Australia hit a new high of 31,700, up 42.6 percent, thanks to the popularity of skiing tours, while those from Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam also reached new levels for the month.