Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 06/04/2012 -- Japan's arrival numbers have grown steadily since 2001. Although they took a hit in 2009, falling to less than 6.66mn after reaching 8.35mn in 2008, arrivals then rebounded in 2010 to 8.45mn. As a result of the devastating earthquake that hit Tohoku on March 11 2011 and the tsunami and nuclear crisis that followed, we cut our outlook for Japan's tourism industry in 2011 and 2012. Previously, BMI forecast 8.99mn and 9.64mn arrivals in 2011 and 2012 respectively. We now estimate arrivals fell in 2011 to 7.99mn, before rising to 8.57mn in 2012 and eventually reaching 11.09mn by 2016. Although arrivals to Japan fell by 57% y-o-y in April 2011, according to the Japanese Tourism Agency (JTA) arrivals in January 2012 recovered to nearly the same level as year ago, demonstrating that the industry is rebounding quickly.
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The number of air and sea tourist arrivals continually increased between 2001 and 2007. Tourist arrivals by air were by far the most predominant, with 8.49mn arriving by air in 2007, compared to 666,000 by sea. Leisure arrivals outnumber those visiting Japan for business purposes. In 2009, leisure arrivals totalled 4.40mn, while business arrivals were 1.41mn, both falling from 2008 but picking up in 2010 to 6.06mn and 1.56mn respectively. BMI estimates the number of leisure arrivals dipped in 2011 to 5.63mn due to the natural disasters and we forecast that in 2012 they will begin to rebound, totalling 6.17mn. They should increase slowly thereafter to 8.50mn in 2016, when business arrivals are forecast to reach 1.77mn.
Japan is targeting Chinese tourists and has eased visa regulations for Chinese citizens. Until 2009, visas were only granted to individual Chinese travellers with an annual income of at least CNY250,000 (US$36,600). Given that this is a large sum for most Chinese workers, visitors tended to travel as part of a tour group. However, Japan has lowered the threshold of annual income to CNY60,000 (US$8,780). To deal with the rise in visa applications, all seven Japanese diplomatic offices in China will accept applications, instead of just three previously, and the number of Chinese tour agencies eligible to apply for visas for their customers has increased from 48 to 290.
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