Tourists break record for March with 857,000 visitors

Kyodo

Tourism to Japan shot up 26.3 percent in March to around 857,000 compared with the previous year, setting a record high for the month, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.

The previous record was 732,000 in March 2008.

The yen’s rapid 20 percent drop against the U.S. dollar and other currencies in the past few months is believed to have raised the appeal of visiting Japan, JNTO said Wednesday

By country and region, South Koreans accounted for the biggest portion of visitors at 207,000, up 37.4 percent, followed by Taiwan with 147,000, up 60 percent. Thailand saw interest in Japan leap to 45,000 people, up 70.1 percent.

Chinese visitors, however, fell 21.5 percent to 102,000 amid deteriorating diplomatic ties over the Senkaku Islands dispute.

But a JTNO official said tourism from China seems to be recovering after topping 100,000 for the first time since September.

Meanwhile, the number of Japanese going overseas in March fell 4.9 percent to 1,652,000, partly due to decreased travel to China caused by air pollution concerns.