The number of foreign visitors to Japan soared 69.5 percent from a year earlier to over 3.08 million in March, the first time the tally exceeded the 3 million mark in a single month, boosted by tourists drawn to cherry blossoms and by Easter holidaymakers, government data showed Wednesday.

The amount of money spent by overseas travelers in the country also grew to a record 1.75 trillion yen ($11.3 billion) for the January-March quarter, the highest ever for a three-month period, on the back of a weak yen, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

The report came as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida presided over a meeting of a ministerial council established to promote Japan as a tourism-oriented country.

The Nakamise shopping street in Tokyo's Asakusa area is crowded with visitors, including tourists from overseas, on April 17, 2024. (For editorial use only)(Kyodo)

"We can expect record highs for both arrivals and spending in 2024 if the current pace continues," Kishida said at the meeting.

The annual record of 31.88 million arrivals was logged in the pre-pandemic era in 2019, while the previous monthly high of 2,991,189 arrivals was recorded in July 2019. Visitors spent a record 5.3 trillion yen in 2023.

The largest number of travelers came from South Korea at 663,100, up 13.2 percent from the pre-pandemic level in 2019, followed by those from Taiwan at 484,400, up 20.4 percent, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization's estimate.

The rise in numbers also coincided with this year's Easter holiday taking place in late March. Data showed that travelers from the United States and the Philippines, countries with large Christian populations, rose 64.3 percent to 290,100 and 63.2 percent to 78,800, respectively, compared with the figures in 2019.

Photo taken on April 17, 2024, shows the area around Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto bustling with foreign tourists. (Kyodo)

As Japan pursues its goal of attracting an annual 60 million foreign visitors by 2030, it faces various challenges, including the negative effects of the tourism boom like littering and traffic congestion.

Kishida instructed relevant ministers to enhance measures to tackle "overtourism," such as by diverting tourists concentrated in urban areas to the country's rural parts.

The number of Japanese traveling overseas in the reporting month jumped 75.7 percent from a year earlier to 1,219,800 but was still down 36.8 percent compared with 2019.

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