Foreign travelers now spend more money in Japan than ever before; surprise country at top of list

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

A new study by the Japan Tourism Agency, part of the Japanese government’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, shows that the Japan travel boom is still going strong. According to the agency, during 2019 foreign travelers spent more money in Japan than ever before, with expenditures from foreign guests totaling roughly 4.8113 trillion yen ($43.739 billion). That’s a 6.5-percent increase over the year before, and also the seventh year in a row for the record to be broken.


Chinese travelers left more of their money behind in Japan than tourists from any other nation, with the country’s contribution coming to 1.7718 trillion yen (more than a third of the total). Following China were Taiwan, Korea, and Hong Kong, with the United States, in fifth place, the highest-spending non-Asian nation.

Expenditures from foreign travelers in Japan:

  1. China: 1.7718 trillion yen
  2. Taiwan: 550.6 billion yen
  3. Korea: 420.9 billion yen
  4. Hong Kong: 352.4 billion yen
  5. U.S. 324.7 billion yen
  6. Thailand: 172.5 billion yen
  7. Australia: 152.7 billion yen
  8. UK: 100 billion yen
  9. Vietnam: 87.1 billion yen
  10. Singapore: 85.6 billion yen

Spending per foreign traveler also rose to an all-time high of 158,458 yen, three percent higher than in 2018. However, the top rankings for per-person spending were very different from those for total spending, with China the only Asian country in the top five and Australia sitting at the top of the list.

● Expenditures per foreign traveler in Japan:

  1. Australia: 249,128 yen per visitor
  2. UK: 241,530 yen
  3. France: 237,648 yen
  4. Spain: 219,999 yen
  5. China: 212,981 yen
  6. Germany: 200,893 yen
  7. Italy: 199,749 yen
  8. U.S.: 190,582 yen
  9. Russia: 183,294 yen
  10. Canada: 182,215 yen


What’s more, travelers from different countries spent their money on different things, with Europeans splurging on hotel accommodations and food while Asian travelers allotted more of their budget to shopping.

Hotel expenditures per person:

  1. UK: 103,364 yen
  2. France: 100,590 yen
  3. Australia: 100,192 yen

● Food expenditures per person:

  1. UK: 62,180 yen
  2. Australia: 61,747 yen
  3. France: 59,290 yen

● Shopping expenditures per person:

  1. China: 108,800 yen
  2. Vietnam: 58,191 yen
  3. Hong Kong: 51,822 yen

The average U.S. traveler, incidentally, spent 83,794 yen on hotels (6th), 48,545 yen on food (7th), and 23,396 yen on shopping (17th).

Part of that hotel/food-versus-shopping gap can probably be chalked up to geographic reasons. Travelers from Japan’s Asian neighbors can hop on over for a quick getaway with just a few days off from work, but those coming from Europe or Australia are likely to be using a larger block of vacation time for their Japan travels. Sure enough, the big hotel/food spenders had longer average stays in Japan than the shopaholics…

Average stay in Japan:

France: 17.1 nights

Australia: 12.8 nights

UK: 12 nights

China: 7.4 nights

Hong Kong: 6.2 nights

Vietnam: 36.6 nights

…with the startling exception of Vietnam, which topped the list at 36.6 nights. That’s more than four times the average foreign travelers stay of 8.8 nights, according to the agency’s statistics, and with per-person hotel expenditures of just 48,847 yen per Vietnamese traveler, an amazing display of bargain hotel hunting, unless a lot of them are in Japan on all-you-can-stay accommodation packages.

Source: Japan Tourism Agency via NHK News Web

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- The fourth best place to visit in the world is…this neighborhood in Osaka?

-- Japanese people least likely to talk to strangers or offer help on airplanes, survey finds

-- The top 10 traits of “domestic” women in Japan, according to Japanese men

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Maybe the main reason tourists spend so much money in Japan is that it is an expensive place to be in.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

● Expenditures per foreign traveler in Japan:

Australia: 249,128 yen per visitor

UK: 241,530 yen

France: 237,648 yen

Spain: 219,999 yen

China: 212,981 yen

Somebody commented last week that he thought Aussies spent the most per person on their skiing trips and was roundly poo-poohed for it. Seems he was right after all.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

● Average stay in Japan:

France: 17.1 nights

Australia: 12.8 nights

UK: 12 nights

China: 7.4 nights

Hong Kong: 6.2 nights

Vietnam: 36.6 nights

Might be a typo with Vietnam, chief.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I wouldn't say its a surprise that China is top. If you've ever been anywhere that has a druqstore and a Don Quixote close together in Tokyo or Osaka, you've probably seen a Chinese shopping tour of about 30 people led by a tour guide with a flag going from store to store stocking up on cosmetics, electronics, nappies and stuff.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Aussie and UK numbers in every category were greatly affected by the Rugby World Cup. So their top rankings are a one trick pony.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The Chinese may seem stingy when it comes to accommodation, but that's because they really splurge on goods when shopping. And I mean a lot!

I'm not surprised the French stay the longest. They're always taking time off. It's as if they don't have to work.

you've probably seen a Chinese shopping tour of about 30 people led by a tour guide with a flag going from store to store stocking up on cosmetics, electronics, nappies and stuff.

And masks!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Is this a deliberate effort or ignorance?

the Vietnamese “ tourists” mainly come to work in Japan and I for one Welcome them very much as they are hard workers.

the spending are living expenses or what they buy to take home after their visa’s nearly expire.

I am happy for everyone of them if they made some money here and thank them for their hard work.

some honesty in statistics would also be a welcome novelty

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Our trips to Japan from Australia have all been for between 18 and 22 nights and I'm hoping the next one will be longer. I'd agree, we spend most of our money on accommodation and food, not much on shopping. Another expense, getting around - rail passes, buses, other trains, occasional taxis.

I say "next trip" but that's scheduled for May and if the coronavirus thing keeps going that could affect whether we go or not. That, obviously, applies a million times over for Chinese tourists. Maybe coronavirus will be the brake on ever-increasing Chinese tourism to Japan and those massive shopping expenditures?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How is it a surprise China drops the most cash here? We've been subjected to years of articles moaning about how the ill mannered Chinese come over here and inconvenience all the locals with their shopping sprees!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Interesting. This flow is having a profound and largely positive effect on Japanese culture.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Chinese travelers left more of their money behind in Japan than tourists from any other nation" Not on a per-visitor basis; that would be Australians, if the article is correct. It should read "More Chinese travelers left money behind than than tourists from any other nation".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My trips to Japan from the UK have rarely been less than 20 nights... next time will be late October.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You can save money booking the hotel on the internet. Just turning up or phoning the hotel directly costs more.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Always book on the net before you go. Only one caveat, occasionally you can get a better deal on the hotel website than you can from something like Occasionally.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I first traveled to Japan in 2016 (10 days) and I will be making a 30 day trip there this June. What surprised me was everyone always told me that Japan is a very expensive place to travel to. Being from the US the plane ticket is kind of pricey but besides that nothing really seemed overly expensive. As far as accommodations, hotels in the US are right on par with those in Japan. I could easily spend as much for a hotel in my home town which isn't even a big city. Then as far as food goes, sure you can go to an expensive restaurant but you can do that anywhere. I would argue that you can eat well for cheap much easier than any place I have traveled. Street food is quite reasonable and the conbini are amazing.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Somebody commented last week that he thought Aussies spent the most per person on their skiing trips and was roundly poo-poohed for it. Seems he was right after all.

Well since it was my argument you're referring to, and misrepresenting, I'd like to defend what I actually said. The original poster suggested, with no evidence, that Australians were the highest spenders because they are coming here to ski. And also with no evidence, that skiing is "extremely expensive".

Unlike the original poster, I mentioned some of the actual costs of a day's skiing, which is not an expensive thing to do compared with other tourist activities that someone coming to Japan might be doing instead. As a tourist, no matter who you are or what you do here, you have to somehow cover the costs of accommodation and food and transport: skiing doesn't make that more expensive. The major and unavoidable cost of skiing, if you bring your own equipment, as many Australians do, is lift tickets, which run about 5000 to 8000 yen a day, though closer to 5 than 8, and can be slightly cheaper with a little effort. Because it's intense activity, and because the resorts are in rural locations not renowned (or even good) for shopping, and often not for dining either, options for blowing additional cash, during the daytime at least, are very limited. A tourist in the city can easily spend the same or more, in particular if they are doing any shopping - which, let's face it, accurately describes Chinese tourists in Japan, whether they're from Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, or Southeast Asia.

From some articles, there are supposedly other reasons that affect the Australian spending figures; one being that tourists who have to take longer flights to get here tend to stay for longer. A flight from Sydney is 10+ hours, not much shorter than a flight from London. And the Australian dollar in the last few years has had a favourable exchange rate against the yen. These seem like two good reasons - probably not the only ones, of course - why Australians might spend more overall, if the total cost of the trip is the measure. The article above gives a few more clues than the original article in which I commented; for example, that Australians average 12 nights here versus shorter stays from countries neighbouring Japan. And that they spend more on food and hotels and less on shopping. Just dividing the average length of stay by overall expenditure on food and hotels shows that Australians are averaging a hotel cost of 7800 per person per day and food cost of 5200 per person per day, which is fairly modest. It's less than Chinese are spending on shopping alone (14,700), averaged per person per day. So even throwing skiing into the equation for an Australian doesn't turn them into huge spenders compared to other tourists, unless you only consider the final cost of their (much longer) trip, and ignore the actual per day cost.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's definitely ignorance instead of deliberate thoughtful assessment, gross generalization to be exact. A significant number of the Vietnamese "tourists" are indeed migrant workers contracted by Japanese SMEs to do labor intensive, often hazardous work the average locals shunned. The rest are wealthy businessmen who recently swarmed Japan because of the increasing strategic partnership between the two countries that loosened and encouraged bilateral economic, cultural (and even military) ties similar to that between Japan and other SE Asian countries (i.e., large number of Filipinos in Japan). Try to look beyond the fact that the average Chinese, Vietnamese or Filipinos are on average poorer than Westerners and make ignorant, sweeping generalizations based on ethnocentric prejudices instead of focusing on the contextual nuances of the stats. I am an American expat who has worked in China, VN and S.Korea for the last two decades and can tell you that some of these Vietnamese businessmen often flashed a couple hundreds$ per drinks or sometime thousand$ per dine outing easily for fear of losing "face" with their Japanese partners. This is Asia and you need to learn cultural nuances or be condemned to perpetual whining on JT on how things are so different here and embarrassed yourself.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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