Hakone tourism bounces back to about 90% of pre-pandemic level

Tourists have returned to the resort town of Hakone, near Tokyo. The number of visitors recovered last year to about 90 percent of what it was before the pandemic.

Local officials say 19.51 million sightseers visited the mountainous town in Kanagawa Prefecture in 2023. That's up 12.4 percent from the previous year.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Hakone received 21.26 million visitors in 2018. Last year's figure amounted to about 90 percent of that.

Among last year's visitors, 15.57 million were day trippers. A total of 3.93 million stayed at least one night, including over 340,000 overseas tourists.

Hakone Town and its tourism association hope to attract more inbound travelers by using government subsidies to improve accommodation facilities, and training guides on local culture and nature.

Mayor Katsumata Hiroyuki said the number of tourists has recovered thanks to a rise in inbound travelers even though it hasn't reached the level prior to the pandemic. He said he wants to use the growing tourism demand to shore up the local economy.