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Asia Minute: Japan Shatters Tourism Mark

Joshua Damasio

Visitor spending in Hawaii so far this year is running about 9-percent ahead of last year’s pace. But tourism is growing even faster in one of the main sources of Hawaii’s visitors: Japan.

Japan has already shattered its record for annual visitors.

The Japan Tourism Agency says the number of foreigners dropping in on the country has already passed 30 million, and should reach approximately 31 million by the end of the year – breaking last year’s record by about 2 million.

This year’s numbers would have been even bigger, but the autumn brought a series of storms and other natural disasters. Tourism to Japan has grown dramatically over the relatively recent past.

Five years ago marked the first time the country welcomed more than 10 million visitors — now that’s been more than tripled.

Much of the sustained growth in recent years has come from elsewhere in east Asia. In fact, so far this year, only four locations have provided nearly three-quarters of all the country’s foreign visitors.

China tops the list — supplying a little more than 25 percent of Japan’s foreign visitors.

South Korea nearly matches that figure — while nearly 16 percent of overseas travelers to Japan come from Taiwan, and nearly 8 percent come from Hong Kong.

Credit Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Overall, more than 85 percent of Japan’s visitors come from the Asia Pacific.

The government is looking to broaden that base of tourism — with a goal of 40 million overseas visitors by the year 2020 — when Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games.

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