National

Cherry blossom-seekers spur Japan tourism in April to record high

Kyodo

The number of foreign visitors to Japan in April rose 0.9 percent from a year earlier to 2,926,700, marking a record high for any month, government data showed Tuesday.

The increase was partly due to European, American and Australian tourists who took advantage of the Easter vacation, which started in April this year, as well as the result of effective promotion of the country’s cherry blossoms by the tourism industry, explained the Japan Tourism Agency.

But growth in the number of Asian visitors was dented by concerns over the surging cost of airplane tickets and over congestion in tourist spots by domestic travelers caused by the 10-day Golden Week vacation beginning in late April.

Golden Week was extended this year because of Emperor Naruhito’s ascension to the throne.

The total number of foreign travelers in the January to April period reached 10,980,500, up 4.4 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

By country and region, the highest number of tourists came from China at 2,895,400, up 10.2 percent, on the back of the easing of visa restrictions in January.

The number of visitors from South Korea declined by 4.4 percent to 2,647,400, as did those from Taiwan by 1.0 percent to 1,593,200.

There was substantial growth in the number of visitors from Vietnam and Thailand, with rises of 30.3 percent and 19.4 percent, respectively.

The government has set a target of attracting 40 million foreign visitors in a year by 2020, when Japan hosts the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In order to achieve this goal the Japan Tourism Agency will “seriously analyze each market,” Hiroshi Tabata, commissioner of the agency, said at a news conference.