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Japan sees surge in tourist numbers

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The number of visitors to Japan this year is rising at a record pace, topping 10 million as of July and aiding the Japanese economy. The 10-million mark was reached three months earlier this year than in 2014, driven by increasing numbers of Chinese tourists, according to data released - by the Japan National Tourism Organization.

The number of foreign passenger arrivals in Japan reached 1,918,400 in July, the highest monthly total on record and a 51.0 percent surge from a year earlier

Meanwhile, a record 11.05 million foreigners are estimated to have visited Japan from January to July, up 46.9 percent from the same period last year, moving closer to the annual goal of 20 million that the government seeks to achieve by 2020 when Tokyo will host the Olympics and Paralympics.

The JNTO attributed the surge in foreign visitor arrivals to a weaker yen, an increase in the number of large cruise ships, and expanded charter-flight services.

Foreign tourists spent 1.6 trillion yen in Japan in the first half of the year, about 0.6 percent of gross domestic product for the period, according to data from the tourism agency and Cabinet Office.

Tourism is swinging increasingly in Japan’s favor in its foreign trade accounts, with the surplus rising to a record 527.3 billion yen in the same period, according to the finance ministry.

The boom in inbound tourism contrasts with weak spending by Japanese consumers and companies, which contributed to a contraction in the economy last quarter.

The government is targeting to boost the number of inbound tourists per year to 30 million by 2030, up from 13.4 million last year.

Source: Bloomberg, Japan Times

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