According to the April report of the Balance of Payments, tourism balance of payments showed a net balance of 177 million yen ($1,770,000), which was the result of the difference between the spending of foreign visitors to Japan and the spending of Japanese nationals traveling overseas.
The foreign visitors’ spending exceeded the one of Japanese traveling to overseas for the first time in 44 years. Notable is the fact that the spending of foreigners to Japan increased about 30% comparing to April last year, while the number of Japanese nationals overseas has been almost the same in the past 5 years, the spending of foreign visitors jumped up almost by 40% in 2013, to the total amount of 1.4 trillion yen ($140 million). The major factors behind these figures are a favorable exchange rate for the Japanese yen and the surprising increase of foreign visitors to Japan coupled with money they spent.
Although Asian travelers account for the majority of visitor to Japan, the number of US travelers has been also remarkable: With 85,300 US visitors arrived in Japan, this April marked the highest monthly visitors number ever recorded for the US market, and this May had 80,400 US visitors, the highest number of visitors recorded than any previous month of May.
According to the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA)’s Consumption Trend Survey for Foreigners Visiting Japan in 2013, foreign travelers’ spending in Japan is 116,000 per person on average, and the American traveler’s average spending is 157,000 per person. In the 2013 survey of JNTO, the US visitors account for 7.7% of the total foreign visitors to Japan, and JTA found that their spending in Japan is 9.6% of the total spending of foreigners to Japan. In reflection of increased foreign visitors and their spending habits in Japan, the Japanese government has announced a wider spectrum of consumer goods such as cosmetics, pharmaceutical products, food and beverages and other consumer items that qualified for tax-free shopping for foreign travelers and thereby waived Japan’s sales tax, which had risen from 5% to 8% in April 2014.