About 18 million foreign travelers visited regions outside of the Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka metropolitan areas in 2018, some 40 percent more than the number of travelers who visited only those metropolitan areas, an annual government report showed Friday.

The figure marked steady growth from the 10.2 million visits logged in 2015, according to the 2019 white paper on tourism, which was adopted at a Cabinet meeting the same day.

Of the 31.19 million foreign travelers to Japan last year, 57.7 percent visited regions outside of the three metropolitan areas, and they spent more than ¥1 trillion.

The report found that foreign travelers seeking experiences, including skiing, visiting hot springs or engaging in nature tourism, have a strong tendency to visit nonmetropolitan areas.

Such travelers also tend to spend more per head than those who do not engage in experience-based consumption.

The three metropolitan areas cover Tokyo and seven prefectures: Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Aichi, Kyoto, Osaka and Hyogo.

In Tokyo and the prefecture of Osaka, consumption by foreign visitors accounted for approximately 45 percent of total travel-related consumption.

The white paper also showed that among natural disasters, earthquakes in particular have the effect of pushing down the number of guests at accommodations sharply after their occurrence.

Such effects are clearer and tend to last longer for foreign guests, compared with Japanese guests, it said.

While enjoying a rise in employment, employee wages and the number of job offers, the accommodation sector is grappling with a heightened shortage of workers, the report said.

Investment in lodging-related construction is increasing around the country, with total planned construction costs for 2018 exceeding ¥1 trillion, about nine times the figure six years ago.

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