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Tuesday, 29th January 2013
In General Japan News,

Number of visitors to Japan fails to hit tourism targets

It is obvious that Japan still bears the scars of the 2011 earthquake, subsequent tsunami and nuclear crisis, but it is not only Japanese citizens who shy away from visiting the worst hit areas.

Visitor numbers to the country are recovering slowly and in 2012 they were up considerably on 2011, although they failed to meet targets set for the year.

Statistics released by the Japanese National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) revealed that there were some 8.37 million visitors to the country in 2012, compared to just 6.22 million in 2011.

The JNTO reported that the target of nine million had not been reached, although this was arguably unrealistic as prior to the earthquake the peak of visitors to Japan was 8.61 million.

In a bid to boost numbers, the Japan Tourism Agency states that it will spend 2012 "advancing initiatives to promote tourism to Japan under the theme 'from recovery to full flight' with an annual target of ten million visitors".

The Japan Times recently reported on the tourism issues affecting the Tohoku region of Japan, which was particularly affected by the natural disaster of 2011.

According to the Japan Tourism Agency, the area's tourism levels were below 80 per cent of that achieved before the earthquake.

The Tohoku region includes Fukushima where the nuclear disaster occurred and observers have noted that concern remains over the safety of the area.

Added to this is the fact that the disaster destroyed many hotels and lodgings in and around the area, so visitor numbers are restricted by a lack of available accommodation.

In light of the nuclear disaster, Japan is increasingly looking to alternative energy sources and Mitsubishi Corp recently reported that it is planning to build a new solar power plant in Iwaki City, Fukushima.

It is likely that news of investment in renewable energy sources will help to promote the message to Japanese citizens and tourists alike that the country is recovering and willing to invest in the disaster-hit areas.

Written by Susan Ballion

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