TOKYO, January 17. /TASS/. The number of Russian tourists traveling to Japan rose 40.8% last year, the international department of the Japan Tourism Agency of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism told TASS on Wednesday, attributing this to Tokyo’s move to ease visa-issuing procedures for Russian nationals.
"The overall number of tourists from Russia here is rather small - last year it stood at 77,200," a spokesman for the agency told TASS. "However, the growth rate of the number of guests from your country is impressing, this exceeds the figures of other tourist flows. We directly link this to the significant easing of the visa regime for Russian citizens, which entered into force in January last year."
Already in February 2017, Russian tourist flow grew by more than 19%, year-on-year. "In March, it skyrocketed by 40% and by 60% in April during the cherry blossom season in Japan. We believe the tendency of Russian tourism flow growth will hold," he said.
Last year, a record high number of foreign tourists (nearly 28.8 mln) visited Japan, a 19% increase year-on-year. The tourist flow to the country has been on the rise for the sixth year in a row.
Japan successfully fulfills the government’s task to bring the number of foreign tourists to 40 mln in 2020, when Tokyo will host the Summer Olympic Games.
Among the factors contributing to the tourism growth is a sharp increase in cheap flights with China, South Korea and other Asian countries, and also easing visa-issuing procedures for Russians, Chinese and Vietnamese.
China is the top source of international tourists to Japan. In January-November 2017, more than 8.8 mln citizens of China’s mainland and Hong Kong visited Japan. South Korea is in the second place, with almost 6.5 mln tourists to Japan.