National

Japan sees record number of foreign visitors for May

Kyodo

The estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan in May rose 3.7 percent from a year earlier to 2,773,100, an all-time high for the month, as there were more tourists from the United States, Europe and many other Asian countries, government data showed Wednesday.

But the number of visitors from Indonesia, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan declined, partly because air ticket prices soared as many Japanese traveled to foreign countries during this year’s special 10-day Golden Week holiday from late April to early May, the Japan Tourism Agency said. The Golden Week holiday was extended to mark Japan’s imperial succession.

By country and region, visitors from China topped the list at 756,400, up 13.1 percent from a year before, followed by South Korea at 603,400, down 5.8 percent, according to the agency’s data.

Taiwan was third at 426,500, down 3.1 percent, while the number of visitors from Vietnam jumped 41.6 percent to 39,900 and Russia saw its numbers grow 30.2 percent to 9,700.

In the first five months of this year, the number totaled 13,753,600, up 4.2 percent from a year earlier, the data showed.

“The environment of competition is tough,” said Hiroshi Tabata, commissioner of the agency, pointing out that other destinations such as Vietnam are increasingly becoming popular for South Korean tourists.

To meet the goal of attracting 40 million foreign visitors in 2020 when the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be held, the agency said it would step up marketing and promotion efforts, targeting tourists from China, and for this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5