Visitors to Japan exceeded pre-pandemic levels in October, official data showed on Wednesday, marking a full recovery in arrivals for the first time since the relaxation of border controls last year.

The number of foreign visitors for business and leisure rose to 2.52 million last month from 2.18 million in September, data from the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) showed.

Visitor numbers improved to 100.8% of levels seen in 2019 before the outbreak of COVID-19 led to travel curbs around the world.

Japan ended some of the world's strictest border measures in October 2022 when it resumed visa-free travel for many countries, and went on to scrap all remaining controls in May.

Arrivals exceeded 2 million for each of the five months through October, boosted by a weakening in the yen that makes Japan a bargain destination.

The October figures were aided by a recovery in international flights to 80% of pre-pandemic levels as well as strong demand from Southeast Asia, North America, Europe and Australia, the JNTO said. Travelers from Canada, Mexico and Germany reached all-time highs for any month.

The arrivals from other nations are helping to compensate for a slow recovery in visitors from mainland China, which are still 65% below October 2019 figures. That year, Chinese accounted for nearly a third of all visitors and 40% of all tourist spending in Japan.

Almost 20 million visitors arrived in Japan in the first 10 months of 2023, JNTO data showed, compared to the record of about 32 million in all of 2019.