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 nine per cent increase on 2017.
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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 the country seeks to 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 by British Airways is also expected to boost visitor numbers.
The news comes as prime minister Theresa May is set to welcome the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe to Downing Street tomorrow.
Michael Ellis, UK tourism minister, said: “The UK and Japan have strong cultural, artistic and sporting ties and this is translating into increased visitor numbers to our shores.
“Tourism is good for our understanding of each other’s cultures and can help strengthen our economies.
“With thousands of Brits expected to travel to Japan for the Rugby World Cup this year and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, our continued close relationship will benefit both nations.”
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, May and 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.
To coincide with this, Japan will also stage a parallel cultural programme in the UK.