As if there weren’t enough confused tourists slowing your roll through the busy subway ticket gates, get ready to deal with twice as many over the next four years.
As we reported earlier this year, Japan drew nearly 20 million tourists in 2015, meeting the mark set by government officials well ahead of its 2020 target date. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Japanese government ambitiously decided to double that goal to 40 million. According to The Japan Times, under the new goal, the government will also target ¥8 trillion in overseas visitor spending by the same 2020 target date. That’s more than double last year’s record ¥3.48 trillion, of which 40.8 percent was thanks to Chinese visitors, whose generous “bakugai” shopping sprees have helped bolster numbers.
In addition to doubling new and returning foreign visitors, the panel’s plan will also try to boost spending by Japanese tourists. Their aim of ¥21 trillion by 2020 is a 5 percent increase of the past five year’s average. The panel hopes to reach the goal by making it easier for Japanese families to take vacations, although it appears that it only plans to facilitate travel rather than mandate employers to allow workers more days off.
After a record number of visitors in 2015 and ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the upward trend is only increasing. According to data by the Japan National Tourism Organization, about 3.74 million people have already visited Japan during the first two month of 2016, marking a 43.7 percent increase over last year. Better start learning to exercise some patience now to deal with the oncoming hordes of tourists.