Since Japan reopened its borders to international tourists in October of 2022, a steady flow of tourists has streamed back into the country which is very popular with international visitors.
Japan has been pretty much a hermit kingdom since the pandemic hit, tightly controlling their incoming travelers and rejecting anyone without close documented ties to the country.
Now, six months after the border opening, there are healthy projections for the rejuvenation of the Japanese Tourism sector, seeing it recover as much as 66% of pre-Covid levels.
According to news reports in Japan, JTB projects that this year (2023) 21 Million visitors will come to Japan for touristic purposes.
Japan will see a 450% year-on-year increase in inbound tourism in 2023, according to a JTB Corp. travel trend forecast.
Visitor numbers have increased rapidly since the easing last October of the nation’s COVID-19 border control measures and some 21.1 million tourists — 66% of the 2019 level — are expected to enter the country this year.
Japan is a popular destination for travelers from Western and Asian countries, and there has been a recent sharp increase in vacationists from South Korea, Thailand and Singapore in particular, the leading travel agency said. Despite Beijing’s lifting of its zero-COVID policy, JTB predicted visitors from China will fully recover only from July.
Domestic travel, meanwhile, is expected to increase 8.6% year-on-year to 266 million, recovering to over 90% of the 2019 level. Around 8.4 million people are expected to travel overseas, 190% more than the previous year.
However, all types of travel are expected to be more expensive than before the pandemic due to high prices and rising fuel costs.
Indeed there are steep price increases, especially in accommodation. Many hotels have implemented rates that exceed even those of pre-Covid levels. Especially luxury hotels such as Park Hyatt Tokyo have now loaded totally absurd rates.
What once used to be a peak rate such as during Sakura season is now an everyday occurrence at Park Hyatt Tokyo, and they also eliminated all award inventory by zeroing out standard rooms for the entire year.
This is for a random date in February, crazy if you ask me! There are other properties that are more reasonable though. After looking at many Tokyo hotels in the past two months I found it’s mostly the PHT that has lost the plot. Also, local brands such as Tokyu Stay are still reasonable if you don’t need luxury.
Of course the big number and question mark that impacts Japanese tourism is how and when tourists from China will be allowed to return without restrictions and in what numbers they’ll come.
Previously, Chinese tourists made up the largest chunk of international tourists in Japan. It’s hard to see how they project a recovery rate of returning to 66% volume without reliable assurance that the Chinese will come back in droves. Personally, I quite like how it is right now.
Japanese officials and travel agencies are optimistic that the tourism industry is on a very strong recovery course and will recover 2/3 of their pre-covid market volume as far as international arrivals are concerned.
Prices are definitely up in the country. I just spent two months in Tokyo and while everyday items are still very affordable (especially with the good Yen rate for most foreign currencies), hotel rooms are the big ticket item where tourists will feel the pinch. I recommend studying the hotel rates carefully and locking in bookings before planning and firming up any Japan trip.
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