Japan aims to receive a record number of foreign visitors in 2025, a draft of the government's revised plan showed Thursday, with inbound tourism seeing a steady recovery since the country significantly eased border measures last October.
The tourism plan covering fiscal 2023 to 2025 also aims to increase per person spending to 200,000 yen ($1,500), up around 25 percent from 2019 levels, and see a 10 percent increase in the number of overnight stays in regional areas by foreign visitors.
The ambitious goals come as the government expects a recovery in demand for international air travel and for upcoming international events to be held in Japan, such as the Expo 2025 in Osaka, to boost visitor numbers.
The draft plan, which was presented at a meeting of experts on Thursday, is set to be approved by the Cabinet in March.
While the previous plan ended in fiscal 2020, a revision was postponed due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the tourism industry.
In 2019, prior to the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic, a record 31.88 million tourists visited Japan. But the number fell sharply following the outbreak of COVID-19, totaling only 4.12 million in 2020 and 250,000 in 2021.
Rather than focusing solely on numbers, the revision will also incorporate strategies to address "tourism pollution" through measures such as attracting high-end tourists and encouraging them to venture outside the main cities.
With no immediate prospects for a recovery in Chinese visitors, the government is likely to focus on attracting wealthy travelers from Western countries instead.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has already set a target for annual tourist spending to reach a record 5 trillion yen as soon as possible, eclipsing the about 4.8 trillion yen spent in 2019.
A new target for "sustainable tourism" will also be included in the plan, with the government set to drastically increase the number of participating areas to 100 from the 13 covered as of January this year.
Under the scheme, municipalities that meet certain criteria will be certified as taking measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.