Japan welcomed 2.79 million visitors in February, a record for the month and the most for any month since the COVID-19 pandemic began, boosted by travel during Lunar New Year holidays.

The number of foreign visitors for business and leisure was up from 2.69 million in January, data from the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) showed on Tuesday.

Arrivals in February were 7.1% higher than in 2019, when the Lunar New Year also fell in the second month of the year rather than the first. For all of 2019, Japan welcomed a record 31.9 million visitors before the pandemic struck.

Tourism to Japan all but stopped for more than two years during the pandemic. Since then, the industry has received a major boost from a weak yen that has made Japan a bargain destination for foreign travelers.

Current account data in January showed a record gain attributable to inbound tourism, illustrating the sector's widening role in the economy. Visitors spent more than ¥5 trillion ($33.3 billion) in the country last year for the first time, exceeding the government's goal.

Travelers from 19 of 23 countries and territories, including South Korea and the United States, set records for February, the JNTO said.

According to Agoda Chief Executive Omri Morgenshtern, Japan is the top destination for travelers from 12 countries on the company's online booking platform.

"Demand for Japan is very strong," Morgenshtern said. "I assume, overall, you will see 2024 in the 2019 levels or slightly above."