The number of foreign visitors to Japan rose to 498,600 in October, more than double September’s 206,500, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. This is an increase of 2,155% from the year before. The number includes both tourism and business, and it was still down 80% compared to 2019.
This year, 1.52 million foreign visitors have arrived, CNN reports. This is far from the government’s 2020 goal of 40 million. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said the government aims to attract 5 trillion yen ($35.8 billion) in annual tourist spending. According to government data, hotel employment fell 22% between 2019 and 2021. Service workers who found other jobs may be hard to lure back.
According to a report by the Tourism Board, the elimination of the daily arrivals limit, as well as the ban on individual and unscheduled travel on October 11th, brought about a notable increase in foreign travelers compared to previous dates.
As of late October, parts of the hospitality sector had not yet recovered from the pandemic and the impact the restrictions had on the influx of tourists. Business had not fully picked up. At Narita Airport, roughly half of the 260 shops and restaurants remained closed.
We are removing the limit on the number of entries to the country and open up to individual and visa-free travel.Fumio Kishida, Japan’s Prime Minister
To boost the recovery, the government began the National Travel Discount program which, according to the Japan Times, is a system of accommodation, food and travel subsidies worth up to ¥11,000 per person per day for use by Japan residents in any of the nation’s 47 prefectures. The program will be expanded on October 20th to include travel within Tokyo.
The Tourism Board based its preliminary statistics on information provided by the Japan Immigration Services Agency, which it presented at a meeting of the Liberal Democratic Party led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
So far in November, more than 140,000 foreign vacationers have arrived in the Asian country, and the upward trend that the receiving industry is so eagerly awaiting is thus taking shape. Before the outbreak of the global health crisis, the monthly number of tourists exceeded two million, reported Kyodo news agency.
The country is now allowing visa-free, independent tourism and remove its daily arrival cap restrictions, including the limit on arrivals. “Japan is relaxing border control measures to be on par with the United States, in addition to resuming visa-free travel and individual travel,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.
Authorities have announced the country is reopening its ports to cruise ships from March 2023. According to the Japan International Cruise Committee (JICC), more than 160 ships are expected to dock next year.