National

Foreign visitors to Japan up 3.1% in November, but growth slows after disasters

Kyodo

The number of foreign visitors to Japan in November increased 3.1 percent compared with the same month last year, government data showed Wednesday, but the pace of growth has slowed from the double-digit levels seen in the first half of 2018.

The estimated number of visitors reached 2,450,800 in November, according to the Japan Tourism Agency. The figure has been gradually growing since a 5.3 percent drop in September that followed a series of natural disasters.

“Natural disasters have made travelers hesitate about coming to Japan,” said Hiroshi Tabata, the commissioner of the agency. “But, the number is on course for recovery as the level of decline in South Korean and Taiwanese visitors is shrinking,” he added.

The agency said the number of foreign visitors topped 30 million on Tuesday, marking an all-time record on an annual basis. The number is expected to reach around 31 million by the end of this year.

By country and region, the highest number of foreign tourists in November came from China at 617,300, up 8.8 percent, followed by South Korea at 588,200, down 5.5 percent, and Taiwan at 351,900, down 3.3 percent.

The total number of foreign travelers to Japan in the January to November period reached 28,560,100, up 9.1 percent from a year earlier, according to the data.

In September, a magnitude 6.7 earthquake rocked Hokkaido, killing more than 40 people. In the same month, a powerful typhoon forced the temporary closure of Kansai International Airport in Osaka, the main international gateway to the region.