According to the Japan Tourism Agency, the total number of visitors to Japan in 2020 was only 4.1 million, the lowest since 1998. After the strong growth of visitor numbers in the past year, the coronavirus-induced tourism crash was the biggest since comparable record started in 1964, Kyodo News reports.
Japan’s government has initially announced the goal to welcome 40 million visitors to the country in 2020, but after the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus and the postponement of the Olympics, that number seems light years away.
A growth of visitor arrivals to 40 million would have already been a jump up from 2019's 31.9 million international tourists, but observers did think the country had a shot at making the number. More visitors would have also injected more cash into the economy. The Olympic Games were expected to bring a boost of $300 billion due to the increase in international and domestic tourists. Now it is even unclear if the sporting event will take place in 2021.
Instead of welcoming international visitors, the Japanese government started supporting domestic travel with as much as $190 worth of subsidies per day. in the latter half of the year. The scheme received negative press, however, when Japan was hit by a second wave of COVID-19 infections in the fall.