Otaku Culture Co-Credited for 3M More Foreign Tourists

posted on by Egan Loo

The Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO) reports that the annual number of foreign tourists has increased by 3 million in the five years since its Visit Japan Campaign started in 2003. In 2007, 8,350,000 foreign visitors came to Japan, and 4,337,000 visitors came during the first half of this year, a 10% increase over the same time period last year. JNTO expects that there will be 10 million annual foreign visitors by 2010. Matsumoto University professor Hiroyasu Satō credited the high overseas interest in Japanese youth subcultures for the influx of foreign cash. In addition to the increase in visitors to Kyoto and other traditional sight-seeing areas, there are now tours to visit Akihabara and other areas famous for anime, manga, and other forms of otaku culture.

Much of the increase of visitors comes from Asia and Europe, where the euro has been rising in comparison to the yen. Akihabara's Asobit City department store says that 30% of its customers are now foreigners, particularly from Europe. JTB Global Marketing & Travel is one of several tour operators for foreigners attracted to the otaku haunts, cosplay outfits, and maid cafés in Akihabara, and it hosted 36 people ranging in ages from their 20s to 40s from America, Greece, Germany, Spain, and Mexico for six days in March and April. Asian visitors have increased due to incentives such as the Mitsukoshi store's Chinese cash cards in the Ginza district, cruises from China, and the high-speed Beetle boat service from South Korea.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun

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