TOKYO, Japan: Official data released this week showed that visitors to Japan in October exceeded pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels, indicating a full recovery for the first time since border controls were relaxed last year.
Data from the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) showed that the number of foreign visitors for business and leisure rose to 2.52 million in October, from 2.18 million in September.
Visitor numbers rose to 100.8 percent of 2019 levels before the start of COVID-19, which led to the adoption of travel restrictions around the world.
Ending some of the world's strictest border restrictions in October 2022, Japan resumed visa-free travel for many countries, eventually scrapping all remaining controls in May.
Boosted by a weakening yen that made Japan a cost-effective destination, visitor arrivals exceeded two million for each of the five months through October.
The JNTO said that the October figures were supported by a recovery in international flights to 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels, as well as strong demand from Southeast Asia, North America, Europe and Australia, while travelers from Canada, Mexico, and Germany reached all-time highs for any month.
However, visitors from mainland China are still 65 percent below October 2019 figures, when Chinese visitors accounted for nearly a third of all visitors and 40 percent of all tourist spending in Japan.
JNTO data showed that some 20 million people visited Japan in the first ten months of 2023, compared with the record of around 32 million in 2019.