Visitors to Japan in 2018 top 30 million to renew record high

TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) – The number of annual visitors to Japan topped a record-high 30 million on Dec. 18, the government announced. As visa requirements for visitors from Asian countries are eased and airline routes, including those operated by low-cost carriers, are expanded, the number of people visiting Japan continues to rise.

The figure is almost triple that of 2013 when the number of visitors exceeded 10 million for the first time. The figure was 28.69 million in 2017. The rate of increase temporarily slowed this year due to a series of major natural disasters, including torrential rains, typhoons, and earthquakes, but tourist numbers subsequently recovered.

According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, in 2017, Japan was ranked 12th in a global ranking of foreign visitor numbers — behind Austria with 29.46 million visitors. France topped the list with 86.91 million, followed by Spain with 81.78 million.

The government has set a goal of attracting 40 million visitors in 2020 and 60 million in 2030. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stressed the government’s intention to work to further increase the number at a press conference. “We need to promote such measures as cashless payments and the use of foreign languages on signs,” he said.

The figure is expected to eventually reach about 31 million this year, according to Suga.