Travel to Japan recovering faster than expected

It looks like an audacious marketing effort and receiving more Michelin stars than France has paid off for Japan of late, with the announcement that tourism is rebounding faster than expected following the country's devastating earthquake.

In an interim report examining the impact of the Tohoku Pacific Earthquake and Tsunami on travel and tourism, the World Travel & Tourism Council said December 14 that the industry rebounded faster than expected during the second half of this year.

Domestic and outbound travel is now back to pre-March 2011 levels, said the WTTC -- important because domestic tourism is dominant, when compared to the number of international visitors arriving in the country.

Visitors to Japan look set to be down by around 25 percent to the end of the year, according to the report, which is still better than originally feared and in line with the body's 'low-impact' scenario.

International arrivals should recover in numbers by early 2012, said the WTTC.

The positive result, which has exceeded many optimistic forecasts, is primarily down to the Japanese response, according to the report.

"[The rebound] is due in part to the speed with which basic infrastructure was repaired in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, allowing travel to and around the affected regions to continue, as well as to the containment of the nuclear problem at Fukushima," concluded the authors.

"The strong yen has been a contributing factor to the rebound in outbound travel, and marketing efforts both internally and externally have reminded the world of the unique product Japan has to offer."

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