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Asia Minute: Japan’s Tourism Boom

Nick Yee
Nick Yee

The period between Christmas and New Year’s is a popular vacation time in many places around the world—including Hawai‘i. This year, one of Hawai‘i’s most popular markets for tourism is having a record year of its own. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Tourism in Japan has already grown by about 50% compared to a year ago…and that’s not even counting December.  About 18-million travelers came to Japan through November—blowing past a record set last year.

The biggest single reason for the booming numbers: visitors from China.  The Japan National Tourism Organization says almost a quarter of all tourists coming to Japan in the first eleven months of this year came from China.  That’s more than double the pace of a year ago---and at that point, Chinese-language bus tours of the Ginza district were already a common sight.

But Japan’s government has further eased visa restrictions for Chinese travelers, and the yen has stayed relatively weak in the global currency comparison.  As is the case in Hawai‘i, Chinese visitors to Japan spend more than tourists from elsewhere.

Overall, Japan has been ramping up accommodations and infrastructure for visitors…as Tokyo gets ready to host the Olympics in 2020.  The Kyodo News Agency reports the Japan Tourism Agency will be getting a budgetary boost for the fiscal year starting in April...about a third more than it requested.  Kyodo quotes what it calls “sources familiar with the matter” as saying that budget will amount to $20-billion yen….about $165-million dollars.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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