Overseas tourists will top 10 million
Japan will likely reach a government target of attracting 10 million overseas visitors in 2013, the Japan National Tourism Organization?s data showed on Wednesday.
In November, the estimated number of foreign visitors increased 29.5 percent from a year before to 839,800, bringing the 11-month tally from January to 9,499,300, up 23.9 percent from the same period last year, the JNTO said.
Japan will hit the 10 million mark this year if the pace of growth continues, Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Shigeto Kubo said, adding that the visitor total has remained higher than the year-before level so far this month.
The yen?s weakness has made staying in Japan less costly for foreigners, and low-cost carriers and other airlines have expanded their passenger flight services between Japan and other countries, JNTO officials said.
Another positive factor was an easing of visa requirements for visitors from Southeast Asia, such as short-term visa exemptions for Malaysian and Thai visitors from July, according to the officials.
The 11-month result already surpasses the annual record of 8.61 million, set in 2010.
By region, visitors from South Korea were largest in number, totaling 2,273,300 during the 11 months, up 23.4 percent from a year before.
The result indicates South Koreans may have grown less anxious about leaks of radioactive water from Tokyo Electric Power Co.?s disaster-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station, the tourism agency?s Kubo said.
Taiwan came second with 2,061,400 visitors, up 52.2 percent. The number of visitors from China decreased 11.3 percent to 1,217,900, still the third-biggest total, amid elevated tensions over the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands.
The number of visitors from Thailand soared 69.1 percent to 397,600, compared with 151,100 from Singapore, up 31.7 percent. Malaysian visitors increased 31.1 percent to 148,100.
Japan will reach the 10-million-threshold even if the December total falls 27 percent year on year, the JNTO officials said.