Japan's tourism industry - statistics & facts

Tourism is a complex industry comprised of various segments, including travel service providers, lodging, transportation, gastronomy, events, and the souvenir business. Additionally, numerous satellite industries are dependent on tourism, such as outdoor goods manufacturers, and wellness service providers. The tourism industry has a considerable size and is also a large provider of jobs. Inbound tourism in particular is thought to have high growth potential and is regarded as a possible driver of the Japanese economy, with prospects to contribute substantially to Japan’s economic reinvigoration in the future. While inbound tourism made huge leaps forward in terms of generated expenditure during the decade prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic travel still comprised the lion’s share of tourism GDP.

Tourism amid the COVID-19 pandemic

The government’s tourism-related strategy during the pandemic was to keep international travel at a minimum and to promote domestic travel when conditions allowed for it. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic at the beginning of 2020, inbound and outbound international travel to and from Japan nearly disappeared, while domestic tourism declined significantly. To help reinvigorate hard-hit segments of the tourism industry, the government devised various nationwide schemes, such as the “Go to Travel” campaign, which attempted to increase travel volume in the country by providing travelers with a subsidy when spending money on travel-related purposes. The program was successful in attracting participants, as approximately 85 million overnight stays which made use of the campaign were recorded in the course of a few months in late 2020. The “Go to Travel” program was suspended at the end of December 2020, and is still on suspension as of August 2022, since the high number of COVID-19 positive cases that followed the traveling spree (and the resulting reputation) made the program’s reinstatement unattractive. Other travel schemes were released in the meantime that aim to support domestic tourism, such as the “Prefectural Resident’s Discount” program and the “National Travel Support” program, and there are even plans to reinstate an improved version of the “Go to Travel” campaign. While the focus seems to lie on the problem of enabling domestic travel to return to pre-pandemic levels, the doors to inbound tourism are being cautiously opened, as a limited number of foreign visitors for touristic purposes are allowed to enter the country from July onwards, provided visitors use package tours.  

Holiday destination Japan

As inbound tourism is regarded to be especially promising, various measures were devised to make inbound travel more attractive and to improve the experience of foreign visitors. This included steps to ease travel visa requirements for visitors from numerous countries, creating more airport landing slots, and providing easier hotel billing codes, to name just a few. Consequently, the number of international visitors coming to Japan  increased significantly in the past decade prior to the pandemic. Further strategic objectives included, among others, plans to facilitate shopping tourism and to become a hub for international conferences. Japan seems to be in a unique position when it comes to welcoming international tourists. From its wellness and relaxation offers to high-quality products and services, from vibrant metropolises filled with cultural activities and attractions to remote hiking tracks and scenic nature settings – Japan has a diverse range of tourism activities to satisfy every traveler.

Interesting statistics

In the following 7 chapters, you will quickly find the 42 most important statistics relating to "Travel and tourism industry in Japan".

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