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12:02 10 January 2017

Foreign tourists to Japan reach record high 24 mil. in 2016

TOKYO, Jan. 10, Kyodo

The number of foreign tourists to Japan reached a record high 24.04 million in 2016, up 22 percent from the previous year and topping 20 million for the first time, tourism minister Keiichi Ishii said Tuesday.

The government attributed the increase to a rise in services by airlines and cruise ships. Tourist numbers from South Korea and China posted a solid increase, while visitors from Southeast Asia also rose.

In a bid to attract 40 million tourists in 2020, when Japan hosts Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the government is planning to upgrade air and seaports, as well as improve access to national parks and cultural attractions.

The pace of increase, however, was slower than 47 percent in 2015, amid a strong yen, China's economic slowdown and earthquakes that hit Kumamoto Prefecture in April.

==Kyodo

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