A record 24.04 million tourists visited Japan in 2016, an increase of 22% over 2015, the tourism ministry announced Tuesday. It was also the first year that the number of foreign tourists to Japan surpassed the 20-million mark, Fuji TV reported.
Tourism minister Keiichi Ishii attributed the increase to more low cost carriers flying to Japan, the easing of visa regulations for tourists from several Asian countries, as well more cruise ships visiting Japan. The biggest numbers came from South Korea and China, Ishii told a news conference.
However, Ishii said the rate of increase in 2016 was less than in 2015, due to a weakening in China’s economic growth and the earthquakes in Kumamoto Prefecture in April.
The government hopes to attract 40 million tourists a year by 2020 and will upgrade port facilities as well as expand flight capacity at major airports. It plans to promote tourism in areas that still remain unknown to many visitors who tend to stick to the so-called golden routes.