The International Passenger Survey (IPS) was suspended on 16 March 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic until the start of 2021. The ONS have made every effort to produce high-quality estimates for the periods when IPS data is not being collected but have not been able to produce a full set of results therefore no data from 2020 is available on the interactive chart below. Interviewing initially began at UK airports at the start of 2021, though the IPS remained suspended at some sea ports and train stations during the year. Data for 2021 and 2022 is also excluded below as there were no interviews at Eurotunnel until July 2022 and data from Dover was only collected from Q3 2021.

Read more about 2020 inbound data2021 inbound data, 2022 quarterly data as well as the latest monthly data for 2022.

Visitor characteristics

  • Over two thirds of visits from Japan are by residents aged 25-54 years old (68% of all visits from Japan in 2019)
  • The Japanese are less likely than average to be making a repeat trip to Britain: 50% of all holiday visitors from Japan (excluding British expats) are making a repeat visit to Britain (within 10 years), compared to 63% across all markets
  • 77% of departing Japanese visitors (excluding British expats) are 'extremely likely' to recommend Britain

Popular activities

Dining in a restaurant

Sightseeing of Famous Buildings/ Monuments

Went Shopping

Global context

International tourism expenditure (US$bn)21.3
Global rank for international tourism expenditure16
Number of outbound visits (m)25.4
Most visited destinationUSA
Most visited destination in Western EuropeSpain

Key demographic and economic data

Population (m)126.0
GDP per capita PPP (US$)41,165
Annual average GDP growth over past decade (%)0.5
Annual GDP growth (%)1.7

Inbound visits to Britain from Japan

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Number of visits

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Total expenditure (GBP)

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Total nights spent

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Average length of stay (Nights)


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Average spend per visit (GBP)

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What Japanese think about Britain

  • The Japanese have a good overall opinion about Britain; ranking it fourth among 60 nations in the 2021 Anholt Nation Brands Index. Britain's 'culture' and 'contemporary culture' were ranked third
  • The Japanese strongly associate Britain with 'museums' and 'music', as well as 'sports'
  • The Japanese expect that a trip to Britain would be 'fascinating' and 'educational'
  • ‘Having fun and laughter’, ‘enjoying the beauty of the landscape' and 'chilling/slowing down to a different pace of life' are key holiday ‘wants’ for Japanese travellers. The USA are seen as the best place to get the first of those holiday attributes by the Japanese while Australia is seen as the best holiday destination for the latter two. 
  • Britain is seen by the Japanese travellers as the best destination for 'revisiting places of nostalgic importance', 'getting around easily by public transport', and 'doing what they want when they want spontaneously'
  • 38% would like to go on a tour of Buckingham Palace

Caring for visitors

  • Leisure travellers generally prefer to stay in 3-star or even higher categories of hotels, with Japanese women (in the 20s and 30s) prefer to stay in greater luxury - 4 or 5 star hotels and students preferring budget accommodation
  • There is a preference for quick service, breakfast buffets, set-meal lunches and express check-in for groups
  • A direct 'no’ is likely to be avoided in formal situations with Japanese looking to use alternatives; small touches will be noticed and appreciated

The leisure & travel trade

  • The Japanese travel industry is specialised and is a customer-focused sector
  • Many travel agencies have increased their online presence as travel booking via the internet has become more common – however, 85% of all long haul travel is still booked through a traditional ‘high street agent’
  • Travel products are geared towards the 65+ age group who have both the money and time to travel abroad

Access to Britain from Japan

Weekly aircraft departures38
Weekly seat capacity8,543
Airports with direct routes in Japan3
Airports with direct routes in Britain1
  • In 2019, weekly departures increased by 10% compared to 2018
  • Japanese visitors do not require a visa to visit Britain, nor do they for anywhere else in Western Europe
  • A new route from Osaka to London Heathrow was introduced in 2019
  • In 2019, the highest rate of flight departures took place in July-September
  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a 59% reduction in direct seat capacity from Japan to the UK in 2020, and 2021 was 60% behind pre-COVID levels
  • Those departing Britain by air destined for Japan pay £84 in Air Passenger Duty if travelling in economy class