At this point it shouldn’t be a surprise to know that the number of tourists visiting Japan has been increasing. In fact, each year has seen a new record, and 2019 is no different. The number during the first half of the year: 16.63 million. That’s a 4.6 percent increase from 2018.
Additionally, the Japan Tourism Agency has said that tourists spent 2.4 trillion yen (22 billion USD), which also represents an 8.3 percent increase from the previous year and an all-time record.
This is great news for the Japanese government, since it has set very clear goals: 40 million foreign tourists annually by 2020. The government also wants visitors to spend 8 trillion yen. In 2018, Japan saw a record number of foreign tourists, which totaled 31.19 million. The rapid influx of visitors from other countries indicates that the government’s targets could be met.
However, it’s not all sunshine and lollipops. While the number of foreign visitors during the first half of 2019 set a new record, breaking down the numbers does not show total wins. For example, despite the number of Chinese visitors soaring 11.7 percent, the numbers of South Korean and Taiwanese visitors decreased slightly compared to 2018.
From the 31.19 million foreign visitors that came to Japan in 2018, most tourists come from China, South Korea, and Taiwan. The number of visitors from the United States, Canada, and Europe is also rising, but paling when compared with the number of visitors coming from East and Southeast Asia.
The Japanese government continues to implement initiatives to increase the number of tourists. These include the easing of visa restrictions and the promotion of private lodging services like Airbnb. Many new hotels are also set to open across Japan, including five-star resorts that will cater to the increasing number of people who desire luxury accomodations. Such hotels include a Park Hyatt in Kyoto, an Aman in Kyoto, a Park Hyatt in Niseko, a second Four Seasons in Tokyo, an announced Four Seasons in Okinawa, and Bvlgari’s first hotel in Japan (also in Tokyo). Shangri-La has also recently purchased land in Kyoto, so we can expect the hotel chain to announce a new hotel in the future.
However, it’s also important to note that the sudden influx of tourists has also caused some problems. Starting January 2019, a 1,000 yen departure tax was added to international airfare and cruise tickets so the country could invest in the necessary tourist infrastructure.
Many foreign tourists have also been blamed for not following rules in Japan, such as littering and the defacing of bamboo forests in Kyoto.