TOKYO -- The number of foreign visitors to Japan who stayed at least one night grew 8% in 2016 from a year earlier to 70.88 million, according to government data released Tuesday.
The figure was up 5% year on year in three major metropolitan areas -- encompassing Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Aichi, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures -- to 42.43 million, according to the latest "White Paper on Tourism in Japan" by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. In other areas, the count grew 13% to 28.45 million. Shikoku saw the biggest rise, up 46%, thanks mainly to travelers from Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Hotels in Osaka and Tokyo were especially busy, with their occupancy rates hitting 84%, the highest among Japan's 47 prefectures, and 79%, respectively, both well above the nationwide average of 60%. These high rates showed the popularity of the two cities among international tourists, along with Mount Fuji, located between them -- an itinerary often referred to as the Golden Route.
In terms of type of accommodation, business hotels in cities were popular among foreign travelers, chosen by 33% of them.