The number of visitors to Japan fell by the largest number since the devastating March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, as international tourism collapses over the coronavirus pandemic.
Tourists coming to Japan declined by 58 percent to 1.09 million in February from 2.60 million in the corresponding month last year, according to Japan National Tourism Organization data released Thursday. It was the fifth straight month of declines.
A steep drop in visitors from virus-hit China and South Korea, which fell 88 percent and 80 percent, respectively, were the main drivers of the fall.
The two nations have been the biggest source of tourists to Japan and were among the earliest to face major outbreaks of the virus that is now rapidly spreading across Europe and the U.S.. The extent of the fall in Japan hints at the hit the global travel industry is taking as nations impose immigration restrictions and airlines slash capacity, slamming the brakes on travel.
The Japanese government introduced a ban on foreign visitors from China's Hubei province, the original epicenter of the outbreak, on Feb. 1, and the number of South Korean tourists was already sharply declining from 2019 amid heightened trade and political tensions. Travel bans have since increased globally, with Japan also expanding the countries and areas on its no-entry list.