27.8% Decrease in Foreign Tourists Visiting Japan in 2011

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    older graph, but shows the drop

    2011 saw a gigantic decrease in the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan:

    The number of foreign visitors to Japan in 2011 totaled an estimated 6,219,000, down 27.8 percent from the existing record of some 8,611,000 in 2010.

    There was also a drop in non-tourist foreign nationals entering the country:

    According to government figures released Tuesday, the number of foreign nationals entering Japan dropped 24.4% from a record of 9.45 million in 2010 to 7.14 million in 2011.

    New entries of foreign nationals – a figure that excludes working or studying expatriates that may have returned after home leave – made a similarly dismal showing. The Immigration Bureau of the Justice Ministry said new entrants fell from 7.92 million in 2010 to 5.45 million in 2010, slumping 31.2%.

    The reasons are obvious: the March 11th disaster and the strength of the yen. People were worried about damage from the disaster and fearful of radiation from Fukushima. And the exchange rate makes vacationing in Japan far more expensive than it would have been several years ago.

    NHK notes large drops in the number of tourists from neighboring countries that make up the majority of foreign visitors to Japan. There was a 32% decrease in Korean tourists, a 26.1% decrease in Chinese tourists, and a 21.6% decrease in tourists from Taiwan. Since November, the number of Chinese visitors has begun to recover to pre-disaster levels.

    South Korean tourist numbers have not shown as great a rebound. The commissioner of Japan Tourism Agency recently visited Seoul to speak to the media and convince people that it is safe to visit Japan. He ended the press conference by singing the Korean national anthem:

    It was kind of weird, but it helped draw attention to his mission…

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