Japan saw an estimated 2,320,600 foreign visitors in July, the highest number since arrivals began to plummet due to the COVID-19 pandemic and about 78 percent of the level in July 2019 before the outbreak, government data showed Wednesday.

The figure was up 16-fold from a year before and topped 2 million people for the second straight month as schools across many countries entered the summer holidays and Japan's eased COVID-related border restrictions continued to attract travelers, the Japan National Tourism Organization said.

Even excluding visitors from China, where restrictions on Japan-bound group travel for its citizens had been in place until last week, the number was 3.4 percent higher than in July 2019.

File photo shows tourists on the Nakamise shopping street running to Sensoji temple in Tokyo on Aug. 10, 2023. (Kyodo)

China's lifting of the group tour ban on Thursday is expected to significantly increase overseas visitor numbers. Concerns persist, however, over potential overcrowding, rising accommodation prices and labor shortages in related industries.

By country or region, the most arrivals came from South Korea at 626,800, up 11.6 percent from July 2019, followed by Taiwan at 422,300, down 8.0 percent, mainland China at 313,300, down 70.2 percent, and Hong Kong at 216,400, down 0.2 percent.

The number of visitors from the United States ranked 5th at 198,800, an increase of 26.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of Japanese who went overseas in July stood at 891,600, tripling from a year before, although 46.3 percent less than the same month in 2019.

The number of departures increased by almost 190,000 compared to June.

Related coverage:

Holidaymakers to boost spending as Japan growth at tipping point

Japan welcomes return of Chinese group tours amid labor shortage fear

May foreign entries to Japan at 1.89 mil, 68% of pre-pandemic level