Skift Take

The depreciation of the Japanese yen against major currencies, particularly the U.S. dollar, has played a pivotal role in driving unprecedented levels of tourist arrivals to Japan.

Japan’s tourist arrivals soared to a record-breaking high last month, with over 3 million visitors exploring the country, as reported by the Japan National Tourism Organization on Wednesday.

Contributing to this milestone were a weak yen, currently trading at a 34-year low against the dollar, along with the influx of travelers eager to see Japan’s famed cherry blossoms.

This is  the first time Japan has surpassed the 3 million-visitor mark in a single month, surpassing the previous high of 2.99 million in July 2019.

Compared to the same period last year, March arrivals increased by almost 70%, and were up approximately 12% compared to March 2019.

Top Source Markets

South Korea emerged as the leading source market for Japan’s tourism, contributing over 663,000 arrivals, followed by Taiwan and China.

Despite Chinese arrivals remaining 35% below 2019 levels, tourist numbers from 17 markets, including Europe, the U.S., Australia, Vietnam, and India, hit an all-time high. Tourism arrivals from Australia went up 87%, while the U.S. experienced a surge of over 64%.

Source: Japan National Tourism Organization.

For the first quarter of this year (January-March), Japan welcomed over 8.5 million tourists. During this period, international travelers collectively spent JPY1.8 trillion ($12 billion), averaging approximately JPY210,000 ($1,358) per person per stay — a record-breaking figure.

As Japan aims to attract 60 million foreign visitors annually by 2030, the country looks to surpass its pre-pandemic high of 32 million arrivals by 2025.

In 2023, Japan hosted around 25 million visitors, who collectively spent a record JPY5.3 trillion ($34 billion), with an average tourist spending approximately JPY210,000 ($1,360) per stay.

The China Focus

As Chinese arrivals are still below pre-Covid levels, Japan has been wanting to increase tourism numbers from China.

On Monday, China’s biggest online travel company Group announced that it will be working with Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) to support the recovery and growth of Japan’s tourism industry.

“With a focus on attracting affluent Chinese travelers aged 20-40, our collaborative efforts aim to showcase Japan’s natural beauty, rich culture, and diverse experiences,” the company said in a release.

In 2023, Group noted encouraging signs of recovery, with passenger numbers reaching 58% of 2019 levels.

Japan Digital Nomad Visa

This month, Japan also introduced the digital nomad visa tailored for remote workers, requiring a minimum annual income of JPY 10 million ($68,300) to qualify.

Citizens from 49 countries and territories with either a tax treaty or reciprocal visa-exemption with Japan, including all EU nations, U.S., UK, Turkey, Australia, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, can apply.

Holders of the digital nomad visa can stay in Japan for up to six months.

Applicants must be tourists working remotely for overseas companies or freelancing for international clients. They must possess private health insurance. Accompanying spouses and children are permitted to stay for the duration of the visa.


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Tags: asia monthly, asia newsletter, china, coronavirus recovery, currency, japan, japan national tourism organization, tourism, group

Photo credit: Japan's famed cherry blossoms. Yu Kato / Unsplash

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