Japanese tourism to the UK is expected to grow this year to its highest level since 2007, as the two countries continue to strengthen economic and cultural ties.
National tourism agency VisitBritain expects visit numbers from Japan to reach 270,000 in 2019, a 9% increase on 2017.
Spending by Japanese visitors in the UK is expected to reach £285 million this year, up from £250 million in 2017.
Nationals from Japan will be able to use ePassport gates to enter the UK from summer 2019 as part of the government’s commitment to develop a new global immigration system as we leave the EU. ePassport gates, which are currently available for British and EU nationals, provide a faster route through the border as they allow eligible passengers to be processed quickly and securely.
Growing airline connectivity with a new direct, non-stop route from Osaka to London scheduled for April 2019 by British Airways is also expected to boost visitor numbers.
The news comes as the Prime Minister is set to welcome the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Downing Street tomorrow (Thursday 10 January).
Visitors from Japan spent, on average, £1,011 per visit in the UK in 2017, compared to the all market average of £625.
Last year, the Prime Minister and Prime Minister Abe announced an arts and culture programme of UK in Japan in 2019-20, bringing together British and Japanese artists, technology experts and businesses to continue to build creative links between the two countries.
The programme, run by the British Council, will provide UK artists and their Japanese partners with opportunities to share state-of-the-art digital technology and showcase the best of UK and Japanese creativity in the run-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.
To coincide with this, Japan will also stage a parallel cultural programme in the UK.
Japanese perceptions of the UK as a visitor destination are strong. Japan ranked the UK fourth out of 50 nations for its overall brand in the 2018 Anholt Nation Brands Index, and up one place on 2017. Japan also rated the UK highly for its vibrant cities and urban attractions and historic buildings and monuments.
Culture is one of the key attractions for tourists from Japan who enjoy visiting the UK’s museums and art galleries, sightseeing at famous monuments and buildings and visiting castles or historic houses.