TOKYO, Japan – The number of visitors to Japan is likely to exceed 13 million in 2014, according to Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Shigeto Kubo.
The visitor count from January to November rose 28.2 percent from the corresponding period last year to an estimated 12,177,500, the Japan National Tourism Organization said Wednesday.
The number of visitors for 2014 surpassed the full-year record of 10.36 million logged in 2013, in October.
Driving the growth are the falling yen, the rise in international flights at Tokyo International Airport at Haneda and relaxed visa requirements for people from Southeast Asian countries.
The addition of cosmetics and alcohol to the list of duty-free items in October reeled in more visitors from mainland China and Hong Kong, according to the JNTO.
Japan has drawn more international attention lately with Tokyo’s selection to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, and Mount Fuji’s belated registration as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Kubo told a press conference.
By country or region, Taiwanese people accounted for the largest number of visitors in January-November with 2,617,700, up 27.0 percent, followed by South Korea at 2,484,400, up 9.3 percent. Mainland China was third at 2,219,300, up a whopping 82.2 percent.
Visitors from Southeast Asia also rose sharply. The number of visitors from the Philippines was up 66.9 percent at 162,300. Visitors from Vietnam grew 46.6 percent to 116,300 and those from Thailand came to 581,300, up 46.2 percent.
In November alone, the number of visitors increased 39.1 percent from a year before to 1,168,500, the largest for the month.