The total number of overnight stays by foreigners at hotels and other accommodation facilities in Japan topped 10 million in April for the first time since January 2020, government data showed Wednesday, buoyed by a weaker yen and increased international flights.
Foreign tourists walk in Kyoto, western Japan, on April 20, 2023. (Kyodo)
The figure rose 19.5-fold from a year before to 10.38 million, equivalent to 92.0 percent of the total in April 2019 before the coronavirus outbreak, according to the preliminary data released by the Japan Tourism Agency.
Even in 2019, when a record-high number of foreigners visited the country, the monthly total of guest nights by foreigners eclipsed the 10 million mark only three times.
As for Japanese guests, the April figure climbed to 37.24 million, up 12.5 percent from a year earlier but down 5.6 percent from the pre-pandemic year of 2019, the data showed.
The cumulative total of overnight stays by foreign and Japanese guests at hotels and inns in April stood at 47.63 million, up 41.6 percent from a year earlier but down 6.1 percent from April 2019.
The tourism industry is regaining ground since the country lifted its pandemic-prompted tires on individual, non-prearranged trips last October.
The figure is likely to increase more in the coming months as Japan lifted its COVID-19 border controls for all arrivals on April 29, meaning entrants are no longer required to present certification of at least three coronavirus vaccinations or a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of departure.
The number of foreign entries in April was more than 1.9 million, up nearly 14-fold from a year before, marking the highest number of foreign visitors since February 2020, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.
Besides a weaker yen, the organization said that Japan’s cherry blossom season, an increase and resumption of flights in East Asia and the start of the holiday season in various parts of the world bolstered the number of visitors to the country that month.