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08 NOVEMBER 2022 · © KYODO

Japan aims to revive inbound tourism to pre-pandemic levels by 2025

TOKYO - Japan will aim to have inbound tourism recover to pre-pandemic levels by 2025, the tourism agency said Monday, with travel demand expected to return in line with a recovery in global air traffic.

The plan outlining goals for 2025, presented by the Japan Tourism Agency at a meeting of experts, also seeks to have the number of overnight stays in regional areas by foreign visitors increase from the 2019 total of 43.09 million.

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is set to approve the plan, which gained a broad consensus at Monday's meeting, at the end of March after considering specific measures.

In 2019, prior to the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic, a record 31.88 million tourists visited Japan. But the number fell sharply following the outbreak of COVID-19, totaling only 4.12 million in 2020 and 250,000 in 2021.

The agency expects travel demand to revive in line with forecasts by international organizations, which say that the number of international air passengers will recover to 2019 levels by 2025.

Upcoming international events to be held in Japan the same year, such as the Expo 2025 in Osaka and the World Athletics Championships in Tokyo, are also expected to boost visitor numbers.

The government will maintain its existing goal of an annual 60 million foreign visitors by 2030.

As part of its aim of revitalizing regional areas, the agency has also proposed promoting travel outside of metropolitan areas by highlighting historical and natural attractions offered by each region.

Supported by the recent weakness of the yen against other major currencies, the government aims for annual tourist spending to reach 5 trillion yen ($34 billion) as soon as possible, eclipsing about 4.8 trillion yen spent in 2019.

With the plan, the government will also consider measures to increase the amount spent per person and their length of stay in Japan, as well as how to address "tourism pollution" issues that accompanied the rapid increase of foreign visitors before the pandemic, such as congestion on public transportation and littering.

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