The number of foreign visitors to Japan returned to 86% of pre-pandemic levels in August 2023. The boost would come from Chinese tourists, according to JNTO, Japan’s National Tourism Organization.
Travelers from China
The number of visitors was approximately 2.2 million in August 2023, compared to 2.52 million visitors in August 2019.
The number of Chinese visitors totaled 364,100, an increase of 16% compared to July. China last month ended its ban on group travel to Japan. This is still well below the number of visitors in 2019.
Yet China remains at odds with Japan
Japan was doubtful whether the number of Chinese visitors would recover, after Japan’s release of treated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant sparked fear and anger in China. Beijing has banned imports of Japanese seafood and there have been calls on social media for a boycott of Japanese products more generally.
Tourists from South Korea still very numerous
Visitors from other countries like the United States and South Korea continued to exceed 2019 levels, with South Korean tourists jumping 84% last month.
Spending by tourists from China remains lagging
Spending was dominated by tourists from Taiwan, the United States, China and South Korea, with Chinese spending accounting for far less than before the pandemic, according to the JNTO. The data also showed that spending per visitor is exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
The government has set the bar high for tourism spending
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida wants inbound spending to reach 5 trillion yen per year as soon as possible. This would surpass the record of 4.8 trillion yen recorded four years ago.
To increase tourism spending, Japan should focus on entertainment services, including local tours, theme parks, theater and music, said Naoko Kuga, a senior researcher at the NLI Research Institute, in a report released on last month. The night-time economy and services aimed at wealthy visitors in particular can grow, she said.
Asia Voyages sees the destination progress
During his last intervention, Guillaume Linton, boss of Asia Voyages, cited Japan as a destination in high demand. We should expect an increase in the number of European tourists in 2023 and 2024.