Ten years ago, when the annual number of foreign tourists visiting Japan did not even come close to ten million, the country set the ambitious goal of attracting 20 million international visitors by the year 2020. Supported by the general international tourism boom and the weak yen as well as with measures successfully implemented by the Japanese government to support inbound tourism (e.g. loosening travel visa requirements for foreign nationals or increasing airport landing slots), Japan reached the goal five years early. And in only six years the number of visitors from overseas grew almost five-fold from 6.2 million in 2011 to an all-time peak of 28.7 million in 2017, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe now even reaching higher, adjusting the target to 40 million inbound tourists by 2020.
According to reports by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), international guests spent nearly 4.5 trillion Japanese yen while visiting Japan last year, with the hotel and the retail industry together making up more than 60 percent of total visitors’ spending. Cosmetics maker Shiseido and discount retailer Don Quijote in particular, have benefitted significantly from tourist spending, recording rising share prices. The travel boom not only fuels the economies of the main tourist destinations, such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, but also spreads benefits to rural areas, simply because the cities start to reach their limits in terms of capacity.
To further grow inbound tourism, the government is planning to build more hotels, as well as taking efforts to attract more western tourists by launching a multilingual promotional campaign. It is aimed at introducing tourism attractions to travelers and raising their awareness of the lesser-known activities and destinations in the country.
Number of international visitors to Japan and visitor spending from 2011 to 2017.
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