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Japan witnesses largest foreign arrivals’ decline in 56 yrs

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Tokyo, Jan 21 (IANS) The number of foreign visitors arriving in Japan in 2020 plummeted 87.1 per cent from a year earlier, marking the largest decline in 56 years when comparable record keeping began, it was announced.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Japan Tourism Agency said that in in 2020 the number of foreign visitors tumbled to 4.12 million, well below the government’s lofty target of attracting 40 million foreign visitors in 2020 when Tokyo was originally scheduled to host the since postponed Olympic and Paralympic Games, reports Xinhua news agency.

As the government tightened entry restrictions in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in May 2020, the number of foreign visitors here slumped 99.9 per cent from a year earlier to just 1,663 travellers.

Foreign visitors in December 2020 climbed to almost 59,000 although this was still 97.7 per cent less than those who visited at the same time a year earlier and marked the 15th successive month of decline, the agency’s data showed.

The agency’s data also showed that in 2020 the number of Japanese people travelling overseas dropped 84.2 per cent from a year earlier to 3.17 million, marking the largest drop since comparable data became available.

Adding to Japan’s already battered tourism industry, the government in late December suspended entries into the country of non-resident foreign nationals arriving from the majority of the world in a bid to prevent the spread of a new, highly transmissible coronavirus strain.

As infections continued to surge, a state of emergency for Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures was declared by the government on January 7.

It was expanded almost a week later to cover 11 prefectures nationwide, including Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto and Aichi prefectures, further affecting the domestic tourism industry.

–IANS

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