Japan has cemented its position as a popular destination for Thai tourists in the first half of this year, making them the largest group of visitors from Southeast Asia.
Almost 486,000 tourists from Thailand visited Japan from January to June, a 14.7% jump from the same period of last year, the Japan National Tourism Organisation said on Wednesday.
April was the peak period for Japan to receive tourists from Thailand with 130,000 going to the East Asian country, followed by March and May.
April and October normally are the peak periods for Thais visiting Japan because of school breaks in the country. Thailand has long holidays in April to celebrate Thai New Year.
Last year, the Japan tourism agency surpassed its target of attracting 700,000 Thais to its country with almost 800,000 going there.
The number of Thai visitors to Japan in the first six months of this year ranked fifth in Asia after China, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Despite the 14.7% increase in Thai tourists, the percentage was moderate compared with visitors from Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. All have seen their tourist numbers to Japan jump at least 30% over the six-month period.
In total, the estimated number of foreign visitors to Japan in the first half of 2016 was 11.7 million, up 28% from the previous year. The figure means Japan is on track to surpass the annual record of 19.7 million logged last year.
Japan is seeing a boom in foreign tourist arrivals on the back of government measures such as the easing of visa rules and an expansion in tax-free shopping.
The amount of spending per visitor, however, fell 9.9% to ¥159,930 (52,800 baht) from last year, partly due to the yen's appreciation, a slowdown in China's economy and declining consumption of costly household items and luxury brand goods which had been in high demand by Chinese tourists.
Japan has recently raised its annual target of overseas tourists visiting the country in 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games, from 20 million to 40 million.
Last month, data showed that the number of foreign visitors to Japan was increasing and is likely to top 20 million this year.