The number of foreign visitors arriving in Japan in December fell 97.7% year-on-year to just 58,700, the 15th consecutive month of annual declines according to figures from the Japan National Tourism Organization.
The December figures took the total number of visitors to Japan in 2020 to 4,115,900, an 87.1% decline from 2019.
Japan’s foreign visitor numbers have dropped sharply since late January 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. From July, measures to resume international traffic were phased in and since 1 October business track (short-term stays for business purposes) and residence track (long-term residents such as workers being dispatched to Japan) were resumed in a limited fashion. However, entry for tourism purposes remains prohibited and entry from all foreign countries has been suspended since 28 December due to growing COVID-19 numbers.
Further, with the declaration of a state of emergency on 9 January 2021 as per the on the Act on Special Measures Concerning New Influenza, it was decided that all immigrants, re-entries and returnees from all countries and regions must undergo PCR tests at time of landing for the duration of the state of emergency.
There are concerns within the IR industry about the impact the pandemic is having on operator candidates given their inability to visit Japan at a time when locations such as Nagasaki and Yokohama are launching their RFPs.
Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party is hoping IRs can help the nation welcome 60 million visitors annually by 2030.