• Kyodo

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The number of foreign tourists staying at hotels in the normally thronging tourist destination of Kyoto plunged 89.5 percent in March from a year earlier amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent survey.

The number of visitors from East Asia, where the virus took hold from the start of the year, plummeted even further, with a 98.4 percent slump in travelers from China and a 98.7 percent dive in those from Taiwan, the Kyoto City Tourism Association said.

March is usually a key month for the ancient Japanese capital, with the blooming cherry blossoms a major tourist draw, but the number of domestic guests fell 45.5 percent.

Both the overseas and Japanese figures recorded their steepest declines since the city started compiling the monthly poll in 2014, according to the survey released April 30.

The hotel occupancy rate was 30.3 percent in March, a record low for the second straight month.

In February, the number of foreign hotel guests dived 53.8 percent while the number of Japanese nationals was down 4.7 percent, according to the survey, which focuses on 59 hotels in Kyoto and covers around 40 percent of the city’s rooms.

The association said the domestic demand that had previously remained disappeared in April, following the government’s request for people to refrain from nonessential outings.

It predicted the April figure will underline “an extremely grave situation worse than that of March.”

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