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Disasters lead to drop in visitors to Japan for first time since 2013

The number of monthly overseas tourists to Japan declined for the first time in more than five years as the country suffered powerful typhoon and a major earthquake, the government said on Tuesday, October 16, 2018.

Japan flooding
Japan has suffered the worst flooding and landslide in decades. Photo credit: BBC.com

According to the Japan National Tourist Organisation (JNTO), the country received 2.16 million visitors in September, down 5.3 per cent, marking the first year-on-year fall since January 2013.

Typhoon Jebi pummelled western Japan on Sept. 4, leaving 11 dead and hundreds injured and inundating Kansai International Airport, located on an artificial island.

The airport, a major gateway to western cities such as Osaka and Kyoto, fully reopened 17 days later.

Two days after the storm, a magnitude-6.7 earthquake rocked the northern island of Hokkaido, killing over 40 people and triggering a blackout across the prefecture, resulting in almost 3 million households losing electricity.

New Chitose Airport, the island’s main airport, was temporarily closed due to the blackout and the damage to the terminal building.

According to JNTO, in September, Japan received 652,700 visitors from China, the largest market, down 3.8 per cent from a year earlier.

Meanwhile, the number of tourists from South Korea, the second-largest market, fell 13.9 per cent to 479,700.

In 2017, a record 28.7 million people travelled to Japan, which marked the sixth straight year of increases since 2011, the year the country suffered a powerful earthquake, resulting tsunami and its worst nuclear disaster.

Report says Japan aims to boost the number of overseas visitors to 40 million in 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games.

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