The total number of nights spent by foreign visitors at hotels or other lodgings across the nation rose 27.4 percent to 33.51 million in 2013, the Japan Tourism Agency announced Saturday.
The figure was up from 26.31 million in 2012, suggesting a recovery trend after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami detered foreign visitors. The corresponding total came to 18.42 million in 2011.
Increasing numbers of visitors from Taiwan and China contributed to the rise, as did the easing of visa rules for some Southeast Asian countries, the agency said.
Foreigners accounted for 7.2 percent of the total 467.21 million guest night stays, including by Japanese travelers, at hotels and other establishments in 2013. The growth strategy of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government includes a plan to more than double this proportion to 16.7 percent by 2030.
This target is likely to be helped by accommodation operators taking steps to make their facilities more welcoming in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, for instance by enhancing multilingual signage and providing meals that cater to various religious customs.
By prefecture, Tokyo hosted the greatest number of foreign guests, at 9.83 million night stays. Tokyo and the other highest-ranked prefectures — Osaka, Hokkaido, Kyoto and Chiba — together accounted for more than 60 percent of the national figure.
The majority of visitors staying in Tokyo and Osaka were on business, while more than 80 percent of guests staying in Hokkaido and Kyoto were on sightseeing trips, according to the agency.
There were 31.25 million guest stays in large-scale facilities employing 10 or more staff. By nationality, 6.18 million of this total involved Taiwanese travelers, 4.15 million Chinese guests and 3.78 million South Korean visitors.
The total number of Thai guest stays soared 76.2 percent from the previous year to 1.43 million, and the number for Malaysian guest stays spiked 54.4 percent to 510,000, both reflecting the relaxation of visa rules in July last year, the agency said.