The number of Japanese and foreign tourists staying at hotels and other accommodation facilities in June exceeded pre-pandemic monthly levels for the first time in more than three years, rising 1.0 percent from the same month in 2019, government data showed Monday.

There were around 46.3 million guests, according to preliminary data by the Japan Tourism Agency, with pandemic restrictions completely lifted and COVID-19's classification downgraded in May to a level equivalent to the seasonal flu.

The number of travelers had dropped drastically from February 2020 after initial cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed in Japan.

But with the country's abolishment of pandemic border controls in April, the number of foreign guests in June rose 15.6-fold from a year earlier to 9.43 million, reaching 98.4 percent of what it was in June 2019.

Tourists from the United States walk near Osaka Castle in the western Japan city of Osaka on June 10, 2023, as the number of travelers to Japan has been recovering sharply following the lifting of COVID-19 measures. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Meanwhile, domestic travelers took advantage of the Japanese government's travel subsidy program, which included discounts on accommodation fees.

The number of Japanese staying in hotels rose to 36.8 million, up 10.6 percent from a year earlier and 1.7 percent compared to June 2019.

The room occupancy rate in accommodation facilities was 54.2 percent, up 9.0 percentage points from a year earlier, but still shy of the 2019 level by 6.4 points.

The agency contacted 63,532 facilities across the country for the survey, with 40.5 percent of them providing valid responses.

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