Government tourism officials estimate that 28.7 million foreign nationals visited Japan in 2017. The figure rose 19.3% from a year earlier, setting a new record-high for the 5th straight year.
The increase is attributed to an easing of visa requirements for tourists from countries such as China and Russia. The officials say another factor was increased flights between Japan and Asian nations offered by low-cost carriers, and the number of calls at Japanese ports by cruise ships.
Tourism Minister Keiichi Ishii said the tourism industry needs to closely monitor, and cater to, the changing demands of foreign tourists.
The Japanese government aims to boost the annual number of foreign visitors to 40 million by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympics and Paralympics.
Source and image: NHK