Record numbers of tourists visit Japan in 2010

The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) is currently promoting winter travel to Kyoto. photo from www.jnto.go.jp)

Japanese tourism reached a record high in 2010, up 24.6% from the previous year, according to the Japanese National Tourism Organization. After tourism took a nosedive along with the economy in 2008 and 2009, it rebounded last year, with more than 9.4 million foreign nationals visiting the country, attributable to the beginning of economic recovery and an influx in Chinese tourism. However, though the increase is a huge one, it actually falls short of the government’s goal of 10 million foreign tourists.

According to the Mainichi Daily News, after Japan eased tourist visa requirements for Chinese travelers in July, the number of Chinese tourists soon increased to 1.6 times that of the previous year. Prior to July 2010, restrictions had allowed only wealthier Chinese nationals to enter the country on individual trips, but the new rules make it possible for members of the middle-class to enter the country without joining group tours.

However, ongoing friction between the two countries caused Chinese tourism to flag later in the year, after uproar over Japan’s controversial arrest of a Chinese captain in disputed waters caused some potential travelers to cancel trips – a scuffle that may have by itself cost the tourism industry from making its target. It will be interesting to see how diplomatic relations between the two nations continue to affect tourism numbers…

About Beth Hillman

Beth Hillman taught English in Japan for four years. She's the co-founder and co-organizer of Joshikai San Francisco, a networking group for women with a connection to Japan.

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