TOKYO -- Private home and room rentals seem to the cause of a major gap between the increase in foreigners visiting Japan and visitors staying in hotels there, the national tourism agency says.
The number of foreign tourists staying in Japanese hotels grew by 8% to a record 70.8 million, but this trailed a 22% increase in overseas visitors, according to statistics published Friday.
The two rates grew apace in parallel from 2012 to 2015, rising each year by 20% to 40%. The sudden drop last year appears to be because the tourism agency's numbers track legally recognized hotels, and do not include home sharing, a practice known here as minpaku.
The statistics also don't count people sleeping on cruise ships or overnight buses, but the agency believes that most of the gap is attributable to private home renting.
Foreigners staying in hotels in Japan's three largest cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya rose by 4.8%, and by 13.2% in the rest of the country overall. Foreigner stays at hotels in Aomori, Fukushima, Okayama, Kagawa, and Ehime prefectures jumped by more than 30%, but fewer stayed in other places, including Shizuoka, Hyogo, and Yamaguchi.
Travelers from Asia tended to head for Tokyo, Osaka and the northern island of Hokkaido, while among Western visitors, Kyoto came in second to Tokyo.