Japan has experienced a surge in visitor arrivals this year, and could even reach its target of 20 million arrivals five years ahead of schedule.
The Japanese government previously set a target of welcoming 20m overseas visitors by 2020, but the Japan Tourism Agency revealed this week that numbers are approaching this level in 2015.
The Japan Times reported the agency’s commissioner, Akihiko Tamura, as telling a news conference that the country is almost certain to exceed 19.5m international arrivals this year, “unless any external factors arise”.
He made the remark after the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) revealed that Japan had welcomed 17.96m overseas visitors in the first 11 months of 2015, which marks a 47.5% jump compared to the same period last year. This is already significantly higher than the country’s record full-year total of 13.41m arrivals, which was set in 2014.
According to the JNTO, the weak Japanese yen and an increase in air lift have driven the surge in arrivals.
For the January-November 2015 period, Japan’s largest source market was mainland China, which accounted for 4.65m visitors – more than double the total in 2014. Arrivals from South Korea jumped 44% to 3.59m, while visitation from Taiwan was up 30% to 3.41m.
Other source markets showing strong growth included Hong Kong, Vietnam, the US and Australia, according to the JNTO. In November alone, Japan welcomed 1.65m arrivals, up 41% year-on-year.
On Monday, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the country’s next target would be 30m visitors, which could feasibly be achieved before the country hosts the Olympics in 2020.