• Kyodo

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Foreign tourism is on track to break the record set in 2015 after an estimated 11.71 million visited Japan in the first half, up 28 percent from a year ago, the Japan Tourism Agency said Wednesday.

Last year saw 19.74 million people visit.

The boom is being stoked by government tourism measures including eased visa rules for certain nations and an expansion in tax-free shopping outlets.

Separate data released the same day showed that related consumption came to ¥953.3 billion ($8.97 billion) in the April-June quarter, up 7.2 percent from the same time last year, the JTA said.

Spending per visitor, however, fell 9.9 percent to ¥159,930 from last year, partly due to the yen’s appreciation, a slowdown in China’s economy and a decline in purchases of costly household items and luxury goods that were previously in high demand by Chinese tourists.

By country and region, China accounted for biggest chunk of visitors at 3.08 million, followed by South Korea at 2.38 million and Taiwan at 2.16 million.

As a result, the government recently doubled its annual target for 2020, when Tokyo will host the Olympic Games, to 40 million from 20 million.

The tally will likely top 20 million this year, according to data released last month.

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