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Number of Foreign Visitors to Japan Plunges Nearly 20% in November 2008

Kyodo News International, TokyoMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Dec. 24, 2008 - --TOKYO -- The number of foreigners who visited Japan in November is estimated to have totaled 553,900, registering a 19.3 percent drop from a year earlier and a year-on-year fall for the fourth consecutive month, the Japan National Tourist Organization said Wednesday.

The government-affiliated organization attributed the decline to the global economic downturn and a nearly 50 percent drop in arrivals of South Koreans who have seen their travel costs surge as their currency, the won, depreciated sharply against the yen.

A drop of four months in a row was last observed in the April-July period of 2003 when a growing number of people refrained from traveling in the wake of the SARS epidemic.

The November data suggest the annual total of visitors from abroad is unlikely to hit the government's target of 9.15 million and could fall behind the record 8,347,000 visitors marked in 2007.

The total for the first 11 months of this year increased 2.2 percent from a year earlier to 7,838,200.

By region, November visitors from South Korea -- the largest provenance of foreign visitors to Japan -- fell 46.2 percent to 117,600. The number of visitors from Taiwan fell 13.4 percent to 93,600, and those from the United States declined 12.5 percent to 56,100.

French visitors fell 2.6 percent to 11,200 after registering increases through October, apparently due to numerous events commemorating the 150th anniversary of Japan-France friendship.

Visitors from Hong Kong rose 5 percent to 35,800, thanks to increased interest in trips to the Okinawa region.

The number of Japanese people departing for foreign destinations dropped 14.1 percent to 1,247,000 in November, marking the 19th month of consecutive declines.


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