Japan's rural economies cash in on foreign tourists
Nikkei -- Jun 23
Foreign tourist spending in rural parts of Japan is surging faster than it is nationwide.

Consumption by overseas visitors in rural areas came to 1.036 trillion yen (about $9.67 billion) in 2018, up 58% from 2015, according to the 2019 White Paper on Tourism, released on Friday by the government-affiliated Japan Tourism Agency.

Foreign tourist consumption in rural areas as a percentage of total tourist spending reached 28.5% last year, an improvement from 23.6% in 2015, as more travelers visited farms and fishing villages, went skiing and indulged in other winter sports, and took in nature and Japanese culture.

The white paper considers eight prefectures -- Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Aichi, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo -- as metropolitan and the remaining 41 as rural.

Foreign tourist consumption in Japan -- including travel expenditures while in the country -- totaled 4.5 trillion yen in 2018, up about 30% from 2015. Consumption in rural areas soared at a much faster pace, nearly 60%, during the same period.

In Osaka and Tokyo, foreign tourist spending made up nearly half of total tourist spending. In Fukuoka, Hokkaido and Okinawa, all of which are blessed with a multitude of tourist attractions, the ratio was around 20%. In Nara, it was 17%. The figure for Gifu and Oita was 10%.

More foreign tourists are finding their way out of the Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka metropolitan areas. In 2018, 18 million foreign tourists trekked into rural areas, about 5 million more than those who simply enjoyed city indulgences. The gap is wider than it was in 2015, when 10.2 million foreign tourists ventured into the countryside and 9.5 million contented themselves in one of the big burgs.

News source: Nikkei
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