• Kyodo


The number of foreign visitors to Japan in April dropped 62.5 percent from a year earlier, marking the sharpest ever fall for a month due to the impact of the March 11 disaster and the subsequent nuclear crisis, according to an estimate released Thursday by the Japan National Tourism Organization.

The sum of visitor arrivals came to 295,800, falling below 300,000 for the first time since May 2003 when tourism was severely hurt by the SARS epidemic, the organization said. The oldest data available is from January 1961.

The sharpness of the decline was also partly because the year-earlier figure for April registered 788,212, a record for that month.

The March total dropped 50.3 percent, but if the period was limited to March 12, the day after the massive quake, to March 31, the year-on-year decline widens to 73 percent, the organization said.

Since mid-April, some group tours have resumed from China and Southeast Asia, but the organization said that “concern about the nuclear plant accident has not been wiped out and will likely linger on.”

The Japan Tourism Agency is planning to step up campaigns overseas promoting the safety of travel to the country.

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