Foreign visitors to Japan in 2021 fell to a record high of 245,900

This January 21, 2021 photo shows the departure hall at Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture. (Mainichi/Yasutoshi Tsurumi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) – The number of foreign visitors to Japan in 2021 fell to 245,900, the lowest since 1964 when comparable data became available, as the country tightened border controls amid the coronavirus pandemic , government data showed on Wednesday.

The figure fell 94.0% from 2020, the biggest drop on record, the Japan Tourism Agency said. Compared to the pre-pandemic level in 2019, it has fallen by 99.2%.

Monthly arrivals were highest in July at 51,055 due to visitors related to the Tokyo Olympics, held from July 23 to August 8. As the Paralympic Games were held from August 24 to September 5, a total of 25,916 travelers entered the country in August.

The events took place without spectators to prevent coronavirus infections.

Since then, the figure has trended downward, falling to 12,100 in December, down 79.4% from a year earlier.

By country, the highest number of travelers came from China with 42,300, down 96.0%. Those from Vietnam came second with 26,500, down 82.6%, followed by 20,000 from the United States, down 90.9%, and 19,000 from South Korea, down 96%. .1%.

The government had aimed to welcome 40 million foreign visitors in 2020 when the country was originally scheduled to host the Olympics and Paralympics, but the Summer Games were postponed for a year due to the pandemic.

The government has maintained its target of attracting 60 million foreign visitors by 2030. But Koichi Wada, who heads the agency, told a news conference he could not predict at this time whether it will was an achievable goal.

The number of Japanese traveling abroad in 2021 also fell by 83.9% to 512,200.

In response to a recent spike in infections caused by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, the government decided on Wednesday to expand a near-state of emergency to cover Tokyo and 12 other regions.

Near-emergency measures include allowing governors to ask restaurants and bars to close early and stop or limit alcohol consumption.

This decision is likely to further compress domestic tourism, which has been damaged by the pandemic.

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