Japan on Friday (today) welcomed its 10 millionth international visitor this year, achieving the government’s goal with barely less than two weeks to go.
Many factors including the weakening Japanese yen, solid recovery from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and easing of the visa regulations for people from Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia, the Philipines and Vietnam, contributed to the rise in the number of foreign visitors to the country.
A special ceremony was held at the Narita International Airport to commemorate the arrival of the 10 millionth visitor to the country this afternoon. A couple from Thailand, Praphan Pha Tra Prasit and Yu Pha Da Pha Tra Prasit, were chosen as the collective 10 millionth memorial visitors and joined the ceremony.
Now, the Japanese government is aiming to double its goal to 20 million, with a long-term goal of drawing in 30 million tourists by 2030. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are expected to give a major boost to the number of foreign visitors into the country.
The relaxed visa regulations paid off with tourists from most ASEAN members increasing. Between January and November, visitors from Vietnam increased 53.5 percent over the same period last year, while the figure was 36 percent for Indonesia, the largest Muslim country and 69 percent for Thailand.
However, the government as well as the tourism industry still needs to make great efforts to accelerate the number of foreign and Muslim visitors into the country.