Trends in Japan

More Than 15 Million Travel Abroad in 1995

JULY 19, 1996

(Photo: Kyodo)

A record 15.3 million Japanese traveled overseas in 1995, 1.7 million more than in the previous year, according to the 1996 white paper on tourism prepared by the Prime Minister's Office. It was the fourth consecutive year in which a new record high was set, and the first time the total topped 15 million.

The Wanderlust of Young Women Continues
Tourists accounted for 83% of all overseas travelers. While there were still more male travelers than females--55.2% versus 44.8%--the growth rate has been faster for females for more than 15 straight years; in 1995 there were 13.6% more women travelers than in the previous year, against 11.9% for males.

For men, those in their forties were the biggest overseas travelers, with nearly one in four belonging to this age group. By contrast, women in their twenties accounted for nearly 40% of all female travelers, illustrating the popularity of traveling abroad among young women.

The United States (including Hawaii and Guam) was the most popular destination, attracting 4.8 million. Then came South Korea, visited by 1.6 million, Hong Kong (1.2 million), China (870,000), Taiwan (820,000), and Australia (740,000).

Threefold Increase in 10 Years
The number of overseas travelers broke the 2 million mark for the first time in 1973. Thanks to such factors as rising income, more leisure time, and the spread of cheap package tours, the number of travelers continued to grow.

In 1986 the 5 million threshold was crossed, and in 1990 the number reached 10 million. There was a slight retreat the following year owing to the Gulf crisis, but growth returned in 1992. The number of Japanese going abroad has thus tripled over the past decade.

The white paper cites several reasons for the continued growth, including the sustained rise in the value of the yen, the stability of international airfares, and upgrading at domestic airports, which has made links with international flights much easier.

The white paper notes, for instance, that in 1974 a family of four taking a six-day package tour to Hawaii would have paid around 800,000 yen (2,760 dollars at the 1974 rate of 290 yen to the dollar), or four times its average monthly income. The cost of the same trip in 1994, at 550,000 yen (5,500 dollars at the 1994 rate of 100 yen to the dollar), fell below the average monthly income (560,000 yen) of a four-member household for the first time.

Getting More People to Visit Japan
The number of overseas visitors to Japan, meanwhile, dropped by 120,000 in 1995 to 3.4 million, reflecting the impact of the high yen and the Great Hanshin Earthquake in January. Of the visitors, 52% were tourists.

To encourage more people to visit Japan, the Ministry of Transport is implementing a 10-year plan to double the number of overseas visitors to 7 million a year. It is pushing for greater discounts on train passes and accommodation facilities for foreign tourists and will also back up efforts to develop and publicize sightseeing areas that allow visitors to see areas of the country that are distinctively Japanese.

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