Visitors to Japan Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels in OctoberEconomy Society
The Japan National Tourism Organization estimates that in October 2023 the country welcomed 2,516,500 overseas visitors, more than five times the 498,646 that visited in the same month the previous year and the fifth consecutive month the number has exceeded two million. This was also 0.8% more than the figure for October 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is the first time to see an increase compared with the same month in that year.
After numbers dropped drastically in 2020, there has been rapid recovery since last autumn due to the relaxation and removal of border measures. The total number of visitors to Japan between January and October was 19,981,100, equivalent to 73.9% of the level during the same period in 2019. In 2025, the government is aiming to surpass the previous record high of 31.9 million visitors set in 2019, a goal that appears increasingly achievable.
Behind this sharp recovery is the depreciation of the yen. In 2019, before the pandemic, the dollar was around ¥110, but more recently it has moved closer to ¥150. Japan’s popularity is growing as its highly regarded food and hospitality are currently all at lower prices than prior to the pandemic.
By country and region, the largest number of visitors was from South Korea with 631,100, followed by Taiwan with 424,800, China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) with 256,300, the United States with 211,900, and Hong Kong with 179,300. The increase in visitors from South Korea was approximately three times that of October 2019, when Japan-Korea relations were tense due to a dispute over wartime forced labor. Meanwhile visitors from the United States increased by 40% compared with four years earlier. Both of these increases were record highs for the month of October.
On the other hand, while there were 730,631 visitors from China in October 2019, there were only 256,300 in October 2023, or 35.1% of that total. It is thought that worsening sentiments toward Japan due to the release of treated water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant has had an impact. As Chinese visitors accounted for approximately 30% of total visitors prior to the pandemic, this is likely to significantly affect inbound demand in the future.
(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: Visitors taking photos at Shibuya’s scramble crossing in October 2023. © Jiji.)