An increasing number of foreign tourists are staying at hotels and inns in rural areas, spreading the positive economic impact of Japan's tourism boom across the country, a government report said Tuesday.

Stays by foreign tourists outside the metropolitan areas surrounding Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya accounted for over 40 percent of the total for the first time in 2017, according to the white paper on tourism, approved by the Cabinet the same day.

With the government aiming to lift the ratio to 50 percent ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the report underscored plans to enhance necessary measures to attain the goal.