Tourists topped 28 million in 2017; China and South Korea leading the increase

For the fifth consecutive year, the inbound tourism total has increased with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) reporting a record high of over 28 million people; a 20% increase compared to 2016.

The introduction of more Low Cost Carrier (LCC) routes connecting various regions to other Asian cities is cited as being largely responsible for the uptake bringing in 20% more Chinese and Korean tourists compared to the year before.

European and North American tourists have steadily risen as well and together with Asian visitors, the total amount of consumption generated by tourists has topped 4 trillion yen. The government has set tourist targets to 40 million tourists per year by 2020 with a consumption target of 8 trillion yen; double the current amount of consumption.

Broken down by country, the MLIT says that visitors to Japan between January and November from Korea are up 17% higher than the same period in 2016, visitors from Vietnam up 31%, visitors from Indonesia up 30%, visitors from Hong Kong up 23% and visitors from China up 14% for the same time period.

Asian tourists led the charge in tourism numbers accounting for 80% of the total number. In addition to increased LCC routes, increased cruise ship routes as well as relaxed visa requirements were also attributed to the increase which has risen steadily year on year from 6.22 million tourists in 2011.

Tourism from Europe and North America also increased and the Japan Tourism Agency has established offices in Europe, North America and Australia to further promote Japan as a tourist destination.

Tourist consumption increased to over 4 trillion yen compared to 3.04 trillion yen in 2016. In addition to shopping at department stores, consumption demand for traditional Japanese goods and experiences have increased. The Japan Tourism Agency is putting more emphasis on animation and sake brewery tours to promote guests to more regional areas of Japan.

At this rate, the government’s goal of 40 million tourists a year by 2020 can be achieved if 20% annual inbound tourism is sustained. However, there are still hurdles in order to double the consumption amount to 8 trillion by the same deadline. The government must attract more Euro-American tourists who consume more per person and have more of an appetite for the luxurious side of Japan when compared to Asian tourists.

The government is also discussing how it should go about promoting Japan’s nightlife to inbound tourists as well but to date, no details have been released.

Source: Nikkei Shinbun

Editor’s Note: Adam German is Vice President of Business Development at Housing Japan and a well-known figure in both the marketing and sales side of Tokyo real estate. Originally from Canada, Adam has been behind some of the most successful international residential property services in Tokyo.