Friday, 24th April 2015
In Japan Travel News,
Monthly foreign visitors to Japan reached record high in March
Japanese tourism officials are sure to be happy after it was announced by the Japan National Tourism Organisation that monthly foreign visitors to the country had topped 1.5 million for the first time in March. With the figure rising for the 26th month in a row, this is very positive news for a country that is striving for 20 million annual visitors by 2020 - a goal it is set to achieve in 2016 or even this year.
What do the numbers say?
The number of foreign arrivals to Japan hit 1.526 million in March 2015, which is not only a slight rise from the previous month but a staggering 45.3 increase from March 2014. For the past 26 months, the figure has been on the rise, with each month rewriting its record high. Furthermore visitor figures from the US, UK, Canada, Germany, Vietnam and Hong Hong each hit a record monthly high, while the other 13 areas looked at renewed their respective records achieved for March.
Major success stories belonged to China, Taiwan and Thailand however. Chinese tourists still remained as the largest share, totalling 338,200 of them; a rise of 83.7 per cent when compared to the previous year. This was then followed by 277,900 visitors from Taiwan, up by 33.2 per cent.
Relations between China and Japan are strengthening, following their deterioration after Japan’s nationalisation of some of the Senkaku islands in the East China Sea in September 2012. According to Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, reservations for flights from and to China are up by 30 per cent, while the recent holiday period in China certainly helped the figures.
Tourists from Thailand, meanwhile, leapfrogged 30 per cent, standing at 92,400 in March, ensuring that the country still remains a firm favourite among Thai travellers. Already in the first quarter of 2015, 181,200 visitors made the journey from Thailand to Japan, a rise of 36.6 per cent from the same quarter last year.
Great news for the sector
The positive news looks set to continue for April. With Easter and other holidays overseas, many travellers will have gone abroad, especially in line with the cherry-blossom viewing season. Furthermore, it has already been confirmed that international flight reservations among Japanese airlines has already reached 470,000 for this year's Golden Week celebrations, which will take place between April 28th and May 6th - this is an increase of 17 per cent compared to 2014's Golden Week. Domestic flights have also gone up by 15 per cent, now standing at 2.22 million.
Speaking at a press conference, chief of the Japan Tourism Agency Shigeto Kubo said: “International attention to Japan is rising.” Mr Kubo added that the government will also be looking to increase the number of foreign visitors that will be exploring areas of the country other than the big city favourites such as Tokyo and Kyoto.
So why all the good news? In terms of China and the south-east Asian countries, it has been eased visa requirements that have encouraged more regional travel, while the depreciation of the yen has made it a much cheaper destination for people to flock to. Add to this the expansion of consumption-tax-free products for foreign tourists since October, the cherry blossom season and the fact that there is increasing buzz in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and what you have is a very attractive potential destination for tourists. Figures are certainly up and, for now, it seems like the future is bright for Japan's thriving tourism industry.