In December 2023, Japanese tourism authorities announced a record number of 2.73 million passengers. This figure indicates a year in which tourism quickly recovered following the COVID-19 pandemic. This number is almost 8% higher than in the pre-pandemic period in 2019 and represents the highest number of tourists in December.
According to JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization), just over 25 million travelers visited Japan in 2023. The agency also reported that 2.44 million travelers explored the Land of the Rising Sun in November of that year.
This year it is expected to exceed 2019’s record of 31.9 million visitors. Thanks to an increase in average spending per visitor, tourism spending has already reached the government’s target of 5 trillion yen ($31.1 billion). This is partly due to frequent travelers from Hong Kong, Taiwan and other Asian countries. Nowadays the level of spending is very high.
According to JNTO, the number of tourists from Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia increased significantly in December, reaching a record high. This helped offset the slow recovery of arrivals from mainland China. Despite the gradual improvement, the number of Chinese tourists in December was 56% below pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, Chinese travelers accounted for almost a third of all visitors and 40% of tourism spending in Japan.
Domestic tourism has been vital to Japan’s economic recovery since the pandemic. However, the fact that the sector is facing a serious labor shortage prevents it from meeting the high demand. Experienced employees are tired and overworked and don’t have time to train new employees.
During the pandemic, Japan implemented the world’s strictest border control system, bringing Japan’s tourism industry to a complete halt for two years. But tourist numbers rose sharply after the government restarted visa-free travel to many countries in October 2022. Since June 2023, more than two million tourists have been arriving each month, partly due to the weakening of the yen, making Japan more affordable. more destinations than any other.