Tokyo, Jan. 17 (Jiji Press)–The number of South Korean visitors to Japan is estimated to have totaled 5,584,600 in 2019, down 25.9 pct from the previous year, the Japan National Tourism Organization said Friday.
The last year the annual number of South Korean visitors decreased year on year was 2011, when Japan experienced the March 2011 massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident.
In summer 2019, the number of South Korean visitors started to fall sharply, amid a rapid worsening of Japan-South Korea relations.
In December alone, the number of South Korean visitors plunged 63.6 pct from a year before.
The overall number of foreign visitors in 2019, meanwhile, came to 31,882,100, up 2.2 pct, hitting a new record high although growth slowed.
In view of the latest figures, the government’s target of 40 million visitors from abroad in 2020 appears difficult to achieve.
Excluding South Korea, all major countries and regions of origin for visitors to Japan posted record numbers in 2019. The number of visitors from China, the largest country of origin, increased by 14.5 pct, while those from Taiwan, the third largest, grew by 2.8 pct.
“People are focusing on Japan in 2020 because of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Hiroshi Tabata said. He added that the agency plans to utilize the opportunity to implement year-round measures aimed at increasing visitors.
The estimated number of Japanese people who traveled overseas in 2019 reached 20,080,600, exceeding the 20-million mark for the first time. The rise reflected strong demand for travel during the 10-day holiday in late April and early May, as well as new flight route additions by airlines.
Meanwhile, the Japan Tourism Agency announced that total travel spending by inbound visitors in 2019 rose 6.5 pct to 4,811.3 billion yen, in a preliminary report on Friday.
The figure is still far from the government’s target of 8 trillion yen for 2020.
The agency will make efforts to boost consumption by encouraging people visiting for the Tokyo Games to travel to other regions, extending their stays in the country.