The estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan in February totaled 1,475,300, 88 times higher from the year before, government data showed Wednesday.

But while the figures suggest the country's tourism industry is steadily recovering after eased COVID-19 border control measures, they were still 43.4 percent lower than the number of foreign visitors in February 2019, before the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Many visitors are seen in front of the Kaminarimon gate in Tokyo's Asakusa area on Feb. 14, 2023. (Kyodo)

Arrivals from East Asia comprised the largest number of visitors but saw a drop of about 22,000 from January when many traveled during the Lunar New Year holiday period, the Japan National Tourism Organization said.

The most arrivals came from South Korea at 568,600, followed by Taiwan at 248,500 and Hong Kong at 119,400.

Arrivals from non-Asian markets have continued to grow at a steady pace, with 86,900 visitors coming from the United States in February, only 6.2 percent less than the same month in the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

There were 36,200 arrivals from China in February, ranking it eighth behind travelers from Thailand, Vietnam and Australia. The Chinese government has been gradually easing its travel restrictions but still does not allow group tours to Japan.

Meanwhile, the number of Japanese who went overseas numbered 537,700, up 11-fold from February last year but was still 65 percent less than the same month in 2019.

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