Number of foreign visitors to Japan up 18.3 percent in January-October period

Kyodo

The estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan this year totaled 23.79 million as of the end of October, up 18.3 percent from a year earlier, the Japan Tourism Agency said Wednesday.

The agency attributed the rise to the increased number of low-cost flights, mainly from South Korea and Taiwan, as well as visa relaxations for Chinese and Russian nationals.

The tourism minister said last week that as of Nov. 4, the figure had surpassed the previous record of 24,039,700 logged last year.

By country and region, China accounted for the largest number of visitors at 6.22 million, up 12.9 percent, followed by South Korea at 5.84 million, up 40.0 percent, and Taiwan at 3.88 million, up 8.2 percent. The number of visitors from Russia grew 40.2 percent to 63,700.

In October alone, the estimated figure increased 21.5 percent from a year earlier to 2.60 million, boosted by travelers from China during its long holiday to mark founding day and visitors from South Korea during its harvest festival.

The agency also said the number of duty-free shops in Japan had risen to 42,791 as of Oct. 1, up 5.6 percent from 40,532 as of April 1.

The agency also released other survey results Wednesday on the use of accommodation by foreign visitors, including minpaku paid accommodation in private homes.

In the July to September period, 12.4 percent of foreign visitors used such accommodation, while 75.1 percent stayed in hotels and 18.2 percent in traditional Japanese ryokan inns. Multiple answers were allowed in the survey.

The visitors using minpaku accommodation mainly came from France, Singapore and Australia.