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Japan Sees First Dip In Tourists Since 2013, Thanks To Mother Nature

By Sharelle Burt

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For the first time in five years, Japan had a drop in tourist visits.

 

You can thank Mother Nature for that. Some of the country’s top destinations were hit with a travel halt in September for weeks following a typhoon and earthquake. Chinese tourists, who make more than 71.3 million trips, account for the biggest portion of Japan’s tourists and fell 3.8 percent in September, while tourism from South Korea fell 14 percent.

 

All this makes sense as Japan experienced abnormal weather phenomenon. Typhoon Jebo came with a vengeance, ripping through Osaka on Sept 4. The strongest tropical cyclone to strike Japan in 25 years flooded the country’s third popular airport and canceled inbound flights for weeks. A 6.7 magnitude earthquake shook the ground in Hokkaido in northern Japan, destroying homes, killing more than 40 people and knocking out power to the entire island. Summer floods and heat waves have also weighed on tourist travel.

 

These aren’t the only things causing a hindrance in tourism in Japan. Chinese customs officials have cracked down on travelers returning from places like Tokyo loaded with high-end merchandise. Luxury-goods companies like Japanese cosmetics maker Shiseido Co. struggled this month over concerns that Chinese consumers will pull back on travel and spending plans. New home-sharing laws, or “minpaku,” have also made it harder for tourists to get Airbnb-style accommodations. Japan is an important growth market for accommodations providers, Airbnb included.

 

While some may be happy about tourists not crowding their country, Japan’s government is concerned about the slow tourist growth as tourism has become a centerpiece of economic policy. With the Summer Olympics coming to Tokyo in 2020, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks to attract 40 million foreign tourists a year in hopes of spurring growth.

 

Visitor figures for August were released on September 19.

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Sharelle Burt

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