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The Niseko area in Hokkaido is a popular winter destination, with luxury condos and some of the world’s finest powder drawing skiers from across Asia, Australia and the United States.

At least until the coronavirus pandemic hit. With the borders shut down, the number of foreign visitors to the town plunged from 160,084 in the fiscal year beginning April 2019 to just 183 in fiscal 2020 and 77 in fiscal 2021. In the neighboring Kutchan, the number of foreign tourists who spent at least one night declined from about 118,000 in fiscal 2019 to 3,847 in fiscal 2020.

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