• Kyodo

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Spending by foreign tourists to Japan increased 17.8 percent in 2017 from a year earlier, rising to a record ¥4.42 trillion ($39.9 billion) as the number of visitors rose to an all-time high, the Japan Tourism Agency said Tuesday.

The surge in spending was boosted by robust growth in the number of visitors from Asia, the agency said.

In 2017, the number of tourists from overseas surged 19.3 percent from the previous year to a record 28.69 million.

Average spending per visitor fell 1.3 percent to ¥153,921 in 2017 following an 11.5 percent decrease the previous year, dragged down by a decline in bakugai (shopping sprees) by Chinese tourists in the first half of the year, the agency said.

Travelers from China spent ¥1.69 trillion in 2017, up 14.9 percent from a year earlier, followed by the ¥574.4 billion spent by Taiwanese, up 9.5 percent, and ¥512.6 billion by South Koreans, up 43.3 percent.

Spending per Chinese visitor dropped 0.5 percent to ¥230,382 last year but was still higher than around ¥200,000 spent on average by visitors from the United States and European nations. Spending per South Korean visitor totaled only ¥71,795, although their aggregate spending ranked third among all countries and regions.

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