[TOKYO] Spending by tourists visiting Japan fell in the third quarter for the first time in almost five years, government data showed on Wednesday, a sign that the economic benefits of a tourism boom are starting to fade.
Inbound tourists spent 971.7 billion yen (S$12.9 billion) in July-September, down 2.9 per cent from the same period a year earlier, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.
Tourists have been visiting Japan in record numbers after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration relaxed visa requirements for some Asian countries.
This was initially a boon as shoppers loaded up on clothes, electronics and home appliances, but a recent slowdown in earnings at major retailers is another sign that visitors to Japan are spending less, meaning economic growth could lose momentum.
Weakness in consumer spending is worrying, because the Bank of Japan has not been able to generate sustained inflation after more than three years of aggressive money printing.
The BOJ overhauled its monetary policy framework last month, in preparation for a long drawn out battle to get consumer prices to rise.
Domestic consumer spending has struggled as gains in real wages have been more subdued than many economists expected.