Less than two years since Japan fully opened its borders to independent tourism, the number of international arrivals this year is finally expected to exceed the record 31.9 million who arrived in 2019.

Stakeholders across the travel industry are unsurprisingly pleased that the country’s tourism and hospitality sectors can again enjoy growth, particularly given lingering COVID-related hangovers, like labor shortages. The government can also begin tracking progress on its goal to attract 60 million international tourists annually by 2030, announced prior to the pandemic but reconfirmed in 2021.

At the same time, though, public and private organizations are becoming more concerned about the type, rather than the volume, of travelers, a trend that has been accelerating during Japan’s inbound tourism recovery. The widespread preference is for travelers who spend more and get off the beaten track, thereby providing wider benefit to destinations across the country.