New Year holiday travelers at Narita about half the level before pandemic

The number of travelers using Narita Airport, near Tokyo, for international flights during the year-end and New Year holidays was about half that for the same period in fiscal 2019, before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Preliminary data from the Narita Airport branch of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau shows more than 549,000 people left or entered Japan via the airport during the 12-day period between December 23 and January 3.

The tally is a significant increase from about 36,000 people two years earlier. No data for the same period one year ago was released, although bureau officials say there was a significant decline amid the pandemic.

However, the figure for the current fiscal year is only about half of the more than 1 million travelers in fiscal 2019.

While the number of foreigners using the airport was over 380,000, the figure for Japanese stood at around 160,000. The numbers for foreign and Japanese travelers in fiscal 2019 were both more than 500,000.

The most popular destinations were in the US, including Hawaii and Guam. South Korea was second, followed by Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand.

Bureau officials say the number of foreign visitors increased as Japan's border control measures were significantly eased, including the lifting of the cap on the number of arrivals in October last year.

They say a slow recovery in the number of Japanese travelers may be due to the yen's depreciation and the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.