Japan on track to hit tourism target early, set new goals

Japan on track to hit tourism target early, set new goals

TOKYO - Japan will set new goals for tourism after an increase in foreign visitors put it ahead of schedule to achieve 20 million a year by 2020, the government said on Monday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is relying heavily on spending by visitors to drive the economy, but the government still does not know what new goals it will set, a Cabinet Office official said. "It could be a new target for the number of foreign visitors or something else," he said, adding that Japan would present a set of new goals by March.

Japan attracted 14.5 million tourists in the nine months through September, already beating a previous record of 13.4 million visitors set last year, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

A weaker yen against the dollar, easier visa regulations and extended tax-free offers have helped boost tourism.

Foreign tourists spent 2.6 trillion yen (S$30 billion) in Japan in the nine months through September, a 77 percent increase from the same period a year earlier. The figure also smashed last year's annual record of 2 trillion yen.

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