Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, and centre of business and politics, is also one of the largest gateways for international visitors. The city has been benefiting from the rapid growth in number of inbound tourists, and also continues to attract many domestic tourists to the metropolitan area.
The Japanese government recognises the potential for tourism to help boost the stagnant economy. It has ambitiously set the goal of 40 million inbound tourists to Japan by 2020, up from 20 million in 2015. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is aiming for 25 million by 2020, and then 30 million by 2024 in the entire Tokyo prefecture. This is largely due to growth of middle- and high-income Asian consumers, and the relaxing of visa requirements, expansion of tax-free programmes, as well as recent airline deregulation and a weak yen. However, in the short term, this is likely to be damaged by the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19), with a sharp fall in the number of inbound and domestic tourists.
Lodging occupancy rates remain high, and the category will struggle to keep up with the growth in inbound arrivals. Short-term rentals have helped, with rapid expansion amidst new and changing regulations. Similarly, both Haneda and Narita airports are expanding capacity, with more low-cost carriers, to help handle the demand.
While the 2020 Olympics will be postponed until 2021, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the initial run-up to the Olympics has already been placing additional emphasis on the city as both a business and leisure travel destination. Infrastructure and construction projects are in full swing to prepare for the games and further modernise the city. Many initiatives are underway to make the visiting experience more comfortable and enjoyable for all tourists. This ranges from infrastructure projects to increased pressure on public smoking.
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