The number of tourists and other visitors arriving from overseas reached 1,817,100 in August, up 63.8 percent from the same month last year. There was a surge in the number of vacationers from China, government data showed Wednesday.
A record 12.88 million foreigners are estimated to have visited Japan in the year through August, up 49.1 percent from the same period last year and a significant advance on the goal of 20 million the government wants to achieve by 2020, the year Tokyo hosts the Olympics.
The Japan National Tourism Organization attributed the continued increase in foreign visitors to a weaker yen, an expansion in the number of international flights and the availability of duty-free, and relaxations in visa requirements for some nationalities.
Last year’s total of 13.41 million was achieved this year on Sept. 10, making it certain that the total this year will easily surpass last year’s figure.
In particular, arrivals from China hit 591,500 in August, up 133 percent from the same month last year, and marking the second month in a row that the monthly figure topped 500,000.
In August alone, a record 137,000 people arrived from China on more than 50 large cruise ships.
Japan Tourism Agency chief Akihiko Tamura said neither the slowdown in China’s economy nor the devastating industrial explosion in August in the northern city of Tianjing dampened demand. Chinese travelers are known in Japan as big spenders.
“Over the long term, aside from the economic factors, the style of tourism might change,” Tamura said. “Japanese tourists in the past, too, were known to buy branded goods overseas. Such patterns of consumption might change, and we need to keep watching how their consumption habits might change.”
Travelers from China more than doubled to 3.35 million in the January-August period, the largest share of the total, followed by 2.55 million visitors from South Korea and 2.47 million from Taiwan.
In contrast, the downward trend for arrivals from Russia continued. In the January-August period, the number of arrivals from Russia was 35,300, down 16.2 percent from the same period last year.
JNTO attributed this to the Russian recession, the devaluation of the ruble and a surge in flight ticket prices.