New Record: Japan Surpasses 3 Million Inbound Tourists In a Month

New Record: Japan Surpasses 3 Million Inbound Tourists In a Month

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Tourist visiting Tokyo
Picture: mits / PIXTA(ピクスタ)
Some 3 million people flocked into Japan in March 2024 alone. What explains the country's record tourism numbers?

The spread of a flesh-eating bacteria did not stop more tourists from entering Japan and spending more money than ever. A new government report says that the first quarter of 2024 shattered records for inbound visitors to Japan. Where are these tourists coming from?

3 million journeyed to Japan in March

Picture: Fast&Slow / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

Over 3 million foreigners visited Japan in March alone, breaking the record for the most inbound tourists within a single month, according to The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO).

3,081,600 inbound tourists entered Japan this March, JNTO announced on Wednesday.

That marked the first time the figure surpassed 3 million since 1964, when Japan began recording the number of inbound tourists.

The overlap of cherry blossom season and the weak yen is said to have been the primary drivers of the increase in foreign visitors.

Compared to pre-pandemic levels, Japan welcomed 11.6% more inbound tourists this March than in the same month of 2019.

Koreans are the biggest travelers

South Korean travelers were Japan’s top visitors, followed by Taiwan. March also saw an increase in Western tourists who had allocated their Easter holidays to exploring Japan, with visitors from the US spiking from February’s 148,700 to a whopping 291,000. In February, US tourists were 5th in numbers behind Hong Kong – but in March, they surpassed Hong Kong to take 4th place.

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March 2024 Inbound Tourists

Korea 663,100

Taiwan 484,400

China 452,400

America 291,000

Hong Kong 231,400

Thailand 131,700

Korean travelers rate Japan as the top destination for cost/performance. Japanese food is also popular back home, and restaurants there have broken laws to recreate Japanese dining experiences.

Tourists spent more ¥ than ever

The total spending of inbound tourists within a quarter hit a record high, too.

Between January and March this year, foreign visitors spent a total of ¥1,750.5 billion ($11,326,610,250) in Japan, according to the Japan Tourism Agency. In terms of spending per person, individuals spent 41.6% more than in the same season in 2019. Each inbound tourist spent ¥20,8760 ($1,350) on average.

Locals clash with tourists

However, not everyone wants more tourists to Japan. More locals are complaining that excessive tourism is disrupting their lives. The complaints range from overcrowded buses to ill-mannered visitors not respecting local customs. Popular locations such as Shirakawago struggle with overcrowding and trash control.

The government of Japan and local jurisdictions are taking measures, not to reduce tourism, but to at least address the burden that tourism puts on residents. The city of Kyoto is taking multiple steps to control tourists. They include creating tourist-only transportation as well as fining tourists who trespass on private streets in the city’s geisha district of Gion.

Local level exhibits same boost

Lantern lighting festival in Miyazu City
Lantern lighting festival in Miyazi. (Picture: Hiroko / PIXTA(ピクスタ))

A public study by Miyazu City released this Wednesday found that the number of inbound tourists staying overnight in the city multiplied by about 15 times last year compared to 2022, making 2023 the city’s biggest year for tourism ever.

The city is famous for its Amanohashidate, a picturesque sandbar that stretches for over 3 kilometers connecting Miyazu Bay with the Inland Sea’s Aso-kai.

57,717 foreigners stayed in Miyazu City in 2023, a dramatic increase from the previous year’s record of 3,907, and a 6.4% increase from 2020.

City officials credit the influx of tourists to the weak yen and relaxation of COVID-19 measures.

As seen on a national level, tourists’ spending in Miyazu City locally increased to the highest levels ever.

What to read next

Sources

訪日客、初の300万人超 3月、単月で過去最多. 朝日新聞

【速報】訪日外国人が史上初めて300万人超え 3月はコロナ前より1割増で過去最高の308万1600人. FNNプライムオンライン

京都北部でも観光公害の懸念 宮津市の去年の外国人宿泊客、前年の15倍に. 産経新聞

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