(Yomiuri: November 19, 2015 – p. 2)
The number of visitors to Japan in October was 1.82 million, up 43.8% from a year earlier, according to statistics released on Nov. 18 by the Japan National Tourism Organization. This is the second-highest monthly figure on record, following the figure for July this year. Foreign tourist numbers in Japan continue to be strong. However, it will be hard for Japan to reach the government target of “20 million foreign tourists a year” in 2015, because the terrorist attacks in Paris will inevitably have an adverse impact on travel demand worldwide.
From January through October, the total number of visitors reached 16.31 million, up 48.2%, far above the annual record of 13.41 million, scored last year. The Japan Tourism Agency says that it “forecasts the annual figure will reach the 19 million level” this year.
Looking at the traveler statistics by country or region, mainland China accounted for the biggest proportion of total visitors for October. Visitors from mainland China numbered 440,000, almost double the year-before level. Not only did China have a string of holidays in early October centering on National Day, but the number of flights between Japan and China were increased substantially. There have been no signs that the Chinese economic slowdown is having an impact, it is said. In October, South Korea followed mainland China, with visitors totaling 370,000, up 48.6%. Coming third was Taiwan, with 340,000 visitors, up 32.0%.
The terrorist attacks in Paris are having some impact, with routes between Haneda and Paris seeing a 20–30% drop in seat occupancy. French travelers to Japan are about 1% of all foreign travelers to Japan and are less than 1% of all European travelers to Japan. European travelers tend to stay for longer periods, though, so it is thought that the drop in numbers will inevitably have a certain impact on hotels and the like.
Tourism is experiencing adverse conditions as security is being tightened worldwide. In 2001, the year of the terrorist attacks in the United States, tourist figures dropped temporarily around the world and growth was sluggish for a few years. Koya Miyamae of SMBC Nikko Securities says, “It will be hard for Japan to exceed [the target of] 20 million foreign tourists a year as their numbers will decrease for a time in the second half of November and in December.”
It is thought, though, that the increasing trend in foreign tourist numbers will continue over the medium to long term. The overseas travel craze in China is strong, and some say that these travelers will switch their travel destination from France to their neighbor Japan.
Infographic on tourists to Japan, by country or region