The number of foreign visitors arriving in Japan is on course to hit a record high of 24 million before the end of the year, according to the head of the Japan Tourism Agency, with the number of arrivals via low-cost carriers and cruise ships experiencing the most marked growth.
JTA commissioner Akihiko Tamura announced that arrivals between January and October were up 23.3 per cent over the same period in 2015 and had reached a record 20.11 million with two months of the year still left.
The government had set a target of 20 million visitors by the year 2020, but has been forced to radically revise its targets thanks to the growth of budget airlines, increasing number of cruise ship visitors and easier visa requirements.
The new target is 40 million foreign arrivals in the year in which Tokyo will host the Olympic Games.
For October alone, arrivals jumped 16.8 percent year-on-year to 2.13 million, the second-highest monthly figure ever recorded. The Japan National Tourism Organisation puts that figure in part down to a national holiday in China.
The growth in the cruise sector has been particularly noteworthy, Tamura said, with statistics showing that while a mere 871 passengers arrived aboard cruise ships in January 2015, the figure for August 2016 amounted to 241,930 arrivals.