More American tourists head to Japan as battered yen beckons – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

The topic at hand revolves around the surge in American tourists visiting Japan and the increasing foreign investment in the country’s hotel industry. This resurgence has been fueled by a significant decline in the value of the Japanese yen, which has made travel to Japan more affordable for American tourists.

Data from the International Trade Administration shows that over 900,000 American tourists arrived in Japan by air during the first five months of 2024, marking a 17.4% year-over-year increase and a 35.5% jump compared to 2019, before the pandemic. This surge in demand for travel to Japan is not exclusive to Americans, as demand has been growing across the Asia-Pacific, including from China.

The weakened yen compared to the U.S. dollar has been a key factor in the increasing number of American tourists. The exchange rate boosts the spending power of American tourists, making their travel experience more cost-effective. Tim Hentschel, CEO of travel bookings platform HotelPlanner, has indicated that this is a significant factor attracting American tourists to Japan.

Foreign investments in the Japanese hotel industry have also seen a sharp spike. Cross-border investments in the sector reached $1.38 billion during the first half of 2024, up 19.2% compared to the same period in 2023 and 176.3% from the first half of 2019. This surge in foreign investment has enabled global hotel chains such as Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, and Choice to expand their footprint in Japan by partnering with local real estate and hospitality companies.

The surge in American tourists and foreign investments is also reflected in the short-term rental market, with Airbnb reporting a 130% increase in nights booked by American guests in Japan in 2023 compared to the previous year. Additionally, airlines have increased their seats between the U.S. and Japan, with carriers such as United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines Group adding more seats for the summer season in 2024.

A travel agent in Tokyo, Wanping Aw, notes that when unfamiliar travelers visit Japan for the first time, they might opt for familiar hotel brands as a means of mitigating risk in an unfamiliar environment. This trend points to the growing importance of established international hotel brands in the Japanese market. Overall, the surge in American tourists and the increasing foreign investment in the Japanese hotel industry indicate a promising future for the recovery and growth of Japan’s tourism industry.

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