Japan visitor numbers back to pre-disaster levels

The number of visitors to Japan has rebounded to a level higher than before the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

According to data from the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), the country welcomed 686,600 international visitor arrivals in June 2012, an increase of 1.4% over the level recorded in June 2010.

Photo by Chanclos
Photo by Chanclos

The devastating Tohoku earthquake and subsequent nuclear concerns severely impacted the number of visitors to Japan, which plunged 62.5% year-on-year to just 295,800 in April 2011. Despite a gradual recovery, the total number of international arrivals to Japan for 2011 was 6.22 million, down 27.8% from 2010 – the worst rate of decline on record.

In a statement, the JNTO said the results gave it “great pleasure”. “This result has only been possible through the tremendous support and cooperation that we have received from everyone around the world. We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincerest gratitude for such heartwarming support,” the tourism board said.

Hotels have largely recovered, with average occupancy levels in Tokyo now back above 80%, while the aviation industry is also buoyant, with the launch of new low-cost carriers such as Peach and Jetstar Japan, back up by ANA’s continuing strength and a resurgent Japan Airlines (JAL). Earlier this year JAL revealed that it had recorded year-on-year growth in terms of international passenger traffic for the first time since the March 2011 disasters, carrying more than 600,000 passengers on international flights in February 2012.

“It is very encouraging to see demand returning to countries such as Japan,” UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said earlier this month. “[Japan is] fully welcome back the millions of tourists that each year chose to visit.”

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