Japan visitors exceed 3 million for 2nd straight month, tourism agency says

By Thomson Reuters May 15, 2024 | 2:44 AM

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan welcomed more than 3 million visitors for a second straight month in April, official data showed on Wednesday, setting the stage for a potential record year for tourism.

The number of foreign visitors for business and leisure was 3.04 million last month, edging down from the monthly record of 3.08 million achieved in March, data from the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) showed.

Arrivals in April were up 56% from the prior year and 4% higher than in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic shut global borders. Visitors from France, Italy, and the Middle East rose to record levels in April for any single month.

The yen’s slide to a 34-year low has made Japan a bargain destination for foreign visitors, with arrivals set to blow past the annual record of 31.9 million seen in 2019.

While the surge in arrivals is good news for Japan’s economy, it has caused frictions with locals. Complaints of litter and illegal parking caused local officials to erect a barrier this month to block a popular photo spot of Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji.

Trail restrictions and a new 2,000 yen ($12.79) fee will go into effect for Mt. Fuji climbers this summer after a rise in pollution and accidents during last year’s hiking season.

Visitors from Mainland China, Japan’s biggest tourist market before the pandemic, exceeded 500,000 in April for the first time since January 2020 but were still 27% below the level in 2019.

(Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)