Japan tourism surges to record levels in March as cherry blossoms and Easter boost arrivals

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17th April 2024 – (Tokyo) Japan witnessed a remarkable surge in tourism in March, with the number of international visitors surpassing the 3 million mark for the first time in a single month, an increase of 69.5% from the previous year. The influx, which reached over 3.08 million, was spurred by the allure of the cherry blossom season and the Easter holidays, according to data released by the Japan Tourism Agency.

This surge in visitors contributed to a record-breaking expenditure of 1.75 trillion yen ($11.3 billion) during the first quarter of the year, the highest amount recorded in a three-month period. The weakening yen has been identified as a significant factor enhancing the spending power of tourists in Japan.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, addressing a ministerial council aimed at promoting Japan as a tourism-centric nation, expressed optimism about continuing this growth trend. “We can expect record highs for both arrivals and spending in 2024 if the current pace continues,” Kishida remarked.

The record for annual tourist arrivals was previously set in 2019 with 31.88 million visitors, a benchmark that this year’s figures are set to challenge. South Korea led the list of source countries with 663,100 visitors, showing a 13.2 per cent increase over pre-pandemic levels. Taiwanese tourists also showed strong growth, with numbers up 20.4 per cent to 484,400.

The timing of Easter this year also contributed significantly to the increase, particularly boosting the number of visitors from countries with large Christian populations like the United States and the Philippines.

As Japan aims for an ambitious target of 60 million annual visitors by 2030, challenges such as littering and traffic congestion are becoming more apparent. In response, Kishida has urged government officials to implement strategies that encourage tourists to explore beyond urban hotspots and into more rural areas of the country.

Simultaneously, outbound travel from Japan is also recovering, with a 75.7 per cent increase reported over last year, although it still remains 36.8 per cent lower than the figures from 2019. This rebound highlights a global resurgence in travel post-pandemic, signalling a positive outlook for the international tourism industry.