Tokyo: Japanese tourism minister Tetsuo Saito and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday signed a memorandum of cooperation to designate 2024 as a year to promote tourism between the two countries.
During “U.S.-Japan Tourism Year,” the two sides will work together to boost tourism exchanges through joint efforts by the public and private sectors in a bid to accelerate the recovery of travel demand following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Noting that there are 464 sister-city relationships between the two countries, Saito called for taking advantage of the tourism year to resume and further promote exchanges at local levels.
After the two sides recently agreed on a plan to apply to Japanese travelers a program to expedite immigration procedures in the United States, the signing ceremony, held at the residence in Tokyo of the U.S. ambassador, was also attended by Japanese digital transformation minister Taro Kono and Justice Minister Ryuji Koizumi.
Under the Tourism Year initiative, the two countries will hold travel campaigns for the general public and host events for travel agencies from both countries.
The number of U.S. visitors to Japan has been steadily increasing, aided by the depreciation of the yen against the dollar, with the monthly figure totaling some 210,000 in October, up by 40 percent from the same month in 2019, before the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the number of Japanese visitors to the United States in October stood at about 140,000, under half of the pre-pandemic level.