According to The Australian Financial Review, after declining for much of the last two decades, the number of Japanese tourists coming to Australia is once again growing strongly, even outpacing arrivals from neighbouring China.
Despite being less than half the peak reached in the late 1990s, official figures show arrivals from Japan grew by 24 per cent to 382,000 last year and the federal government is now seeking to nearly double the value of this market by 2020.
But the Japanese are notoriously fickle and in an effort to consolidate this new found growth, Trade, Tourism and Investment and Minister Steve Ciobo is in Tokyo this week meeting with airlines and tour operators.
He's hopeful of new airline capacity being added this year out of Japan, as the economy enjoys a moderate pick-up, fuelled by a construction boom ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, strong exports and an increase in consumer spending.
The strong growth has continued in 2017 with arrivals up 19 per cent in the year to February, ahead of the peak travel period in May.
The recent uptick in arrivals has made Japan, along with South Korea, Australia's fasting-growing major tourism market, ahead of China which saw arrivals grow by 17 per cent to 1.2 million last year.
The strong growth in Japanese arrivals had been attributed to a 20 per cent increase in inbound airline seating during 2016.
The 382,000 Japanese visitors to Australia last year spent more than $1.7 billion and as more inbound seats are added, the government is looking to increase this figure to $3 billion by 2020.
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