Inbound tourism continues to thrive as a record 28.7 million tourists visited Japan in 2017, up 19 percent from the previous year and apparently keeping the nation on track for the government’s target of boosting the annual number of visitors to 40 million in 2020. Challenges remain that must be overcome, however, such as a tight supply of accommodations that cater to overseas guests and a heavy concentration of visitors from East Asia. Further efforts should be made to realize the full potential of inbound tourism as one of the nation’s key growth industries.

Tourism is indeed a rare sector that has consistently exhibited sharp growth in recent years. The number of inbound tourists, which stood at 8.36 million in 2012, set record highs for the sixth year in a row. Along with domestic factors such as the weaker yen that made Japan a less expensive destination and the easing of travel visa requirements on various countries, the international travel boom continues to be aided by an increase in the services of low-cost carriers and the expanding ranks of people in many countries with enough disposable income to afford overseas travel.

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