Sensoji Temple
Photo: f11photo/Shutterstock Sensoji Temple in Asakusa

Survey: Japan is the number one tourist destination in the world

Japan took the top spot in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Development Index 2021 – even with borders closed

Kaila Imada
Written by
Kaila Imada

While Japan has been closed off to tourists for much of the last two years, the country came out on top in the latest Travel and Tourism Development Index by the World Economic Forum. The report covers a series of benchmarks and measures of the sustainable development of the travel and tourism industry around the globe. In particular, this year's index focuses on rebuilding the travel and tourism sector after the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Out of the 117 economies covered in the 2021 index, Japan tops the list for the very first time, ranking high for its number of cultural resources as well as infrastructure. Following Japan are the United States and Spain, in that order. In the top ten, fellow Asia-Pacific destinations include Australia in seventh and Singapore at ninth place. 

Apart from its transport networks and rich cultural heritage, Japan also scored well on other measures, ranking ninth for health and hygiene as well as 15th for safety and security.

Some of the sectors where Japan did not rank highly include price competitiveness (96th) and prioritisation of travel and tourism (42nd) – perhaps due to the pandemic border closures. 

Despite setbacks, inbound travel is resuming very soon. Japan is finally reopening to the world on Tuesday October 11. After two long years of closed borders, independent tourists can now visit Japan freely – citizens from these 68 countries and regions can even enter Japan without a visa. Planning on visiting Japan as soon as the borders open? Check out our guide here.

For more information on the Travel and Tourism Development Index, visit the website.

This article was published on May 25 and updated on October 6.

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