Japanese tourists who arrive in Washington on All Nippon Airways today will receive discount coupons from 76 local businesses, including Garfinckel's, the Oriole's baseball store, Morton's Steak House and the local Abercrombie & Fitch outlet.

In addition, the airline, which flies direct from Tokyo to Dulles International Airport, is increasing its flights to five each week on April 1, compared with three flights a week when it began service in July 1986.

And the Sheraton Washington Hotel, like other local hotels, is offering menus and Metro maps in Japanese.

"America is on sale," said Kiyomi Sugahara, president of Jetour Inc., a wholesale package tour business in Tokyo. "The last 24 months saw an appreciation of about 70 percent" in the yen compared with the dollar, he said. "That's a lot of increase in purchasing power."

Because the Japanese spend about $1,353 on an average visit here, compared with American tourists who spend about $250 a person on their shorter domestic vacations, businesses would like to attract more Japanese tourists.

Washington businesses are "very eager to participate" in All Nippon's promotional coupon packages, said Murray Brannen, a spokesman for the airline. "They see a huge potential there because of the yen-dollar situation."

Nearly 29 million visitors came to the United States in 1987, a record 14 percent increase over 1986, and they spent $19.5 billion, the U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration said yesterday. That's still less than Americans spent abroad last year, leaving a $9.9 billion tourism trade deficit.

But one of the brightest spots in the report was that 2.2 million Japanese spent more than $2.1 billion on U.S. vacations last year, a 34 percent increase over 1986. For the first time, Japanese spending surpassed that of tourists from Mexico, and USTTA officials predict that within five years Japan will surpass Canada as the number one source of foreign travel dollars in the United States.

While Canada and Mexico traditionally have provided more than half of the spending by foreign visitors in the United States, the number of visitors from those countries will decline next year as their economies weaken, according to USTTA projections. In Canada, the slower growth in auto manufacturing and energy development will curtail spending on trips to the United States, while in Mexico the effects of the devaluation of the peso and the weakening in the energy sector will be felt, said Roger Bird of Wharton Econometrics.

Those declines will be offset, however, by growing numbers of tourists from countries such as Japan and Germany. In 1986, the number of Japanese visitors was up 29 percent, while 45 percent more Germans visited the United States than in previous years, said the report from USTTA, a branch of the Commerce Department.

It is those groups, along with the Swiss and other Europeans, who should cause the imbalance in the tourism trade deficit to disappear by the mid 1990s, according to travel officials.

In addition to cheaper dollars, the greater economic health among foreign countries, lower air fares to the United States and more promotional efforts by tourism businesses and USTTA have contributed to interest in visiting the United States, industry experts said.

Ironically, the trade deficit between the United States and Japan has contributed to the number of Japanese coming to this country, some said. "This trade conflict really has brought the attention of the Japanese people" to the United States, said Sugahara.

The Japanese government, eager to be seen as encouraging anything that will help close the trade deficit between the two countries, is encouraging Japanese people to travel abroad. Over the next five years, they want to double the number of Japanese who travel outside Japan from the five million who traveled in 1986.

As more Japanese tourists visit the United States, their travel habits are changing. More are coming to the East Coast, in addition to their traditional destinations of California and the West.

"I contend that the Japanese do not travel to discover, they travel to confirm," said Fritz M. Schmitz, regional director for USTTA in Tokyo.

"They follow one travel pattern to a destination that is known," said Sugahara, whose company's bookings to North America and the Hawaiian islands are up 55 percent over the last three months. "They want to take snapshots of themselves with the backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Empire State Building and so forth. But then they become educated and look for new destinations within the country."

Now that 70 percent of the Japanese travelers to the United States are repeat visitors, more and more of them want to confirm what they already know about the Washington Monument and the Capitol.

That leaves many Washington businesses grappling with new ways to promote themselves in that market. "We're really braced to pick up this overseas business," said Gary Oster, director of marketing at the Mayflower Hotel. "We could see as much as a 45 percent increase over 1987."

As foreign currencies have gained value compared with the dollar, the United States has become a more popular place for foreigners to visit.




ORIGIN ----------------------- 1987 -----%CHANGE

------------------------------ ----------'87/'86

CANADA --------------------- 12,410 -------*+13%

MEXICO ---------------------- 5,935 ---------+7

OVERSEAS ------------------- 10,505 -------*+19

---EUROPE ------------------- 4,705 --------+26

---United Kingdom ----------- 1,365 --------+20

---Germany -------------------- 970 -------*+45

---France --------------------- 555 --------+26

---Italy ---------------------- 330 --------+23

---Switzerland ---------------- 240 --------+31

---Netherlands ---------------- 205 --------+25

---ASIA/MIDEAST ------------- 3,070 --------+19

---Japan -------------------- 2,160 --------+29

---OCEANIA -------------------- 415 --------+10

---Australia ------------------ 270 ---------+9

---SOUTH AMERICA -------------- 940 -------- -1

---CENTRAL AMERICA ------------ 330 ---------+6

---CARIBBEAN ------------------ 920 --------+16

---AFRICA --------------------- 125 ------- -14

------------------------------- ---------------

TOTAL ---------------------- 28,850 -------*+14

*Record single year increase

SOURCE: U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration