Japan will relax visa threshold and welcome Chinese tourists

Chinese tourists on the streets of Tokyo [Maidian.com] A group of Asian tourists came down from the bus with the sunscreen on the window glass. They kept taking pictures and staring at Tokyo with their eyes wide open. At the same time, a petite...


Chinese tourists on the streets of Tokyo

[Maidian.com] A group of Asian tourists came down from the window glass with a sunscreen film. They kept taking pictures and staring at Tokyo in a big way. At the same time, a petite guide waved a small flag and shouted in Chinese. Give orders.

At present, Chinese tourists visit Japan as a Japanese visitor to Manhattan and Hawaii in the late 1980s: the fastest growing single overseas tourist group and the most expensive group. Japan will significantly relax visa regulations for Chinese tourists on Thursday, which will allow 16 million families to apply for travel to Japan, which is 10 times more than current visitors.

As of now, tourist visas are only issued to wealthy Chinese with relatively high annual salary. From Thursday, the Japanese government will significantly lower the annual salary threshold for Chinese tourists, paving the way for middle-class Chinese to visit Japan.

The influx of Chinese tourists and, more importantly, their purchasing power has spurred Japanese retailers and other service providers to adapt and cater to these relatively new consumers.

The attitude of Japanese outsiders has not always been known for its openness, but Chinese tourists have been warmly welcomed. Due to fears of deflation and a decline in domestic spending, some Japanese industries have become increasingly dependent on Chinese consumption.

The welcoming of Chinese tourists is just one of many ways in which Japan is increasingly dependent on its neighbors. Last year China replaced the United States and became the largest importer of Japanese goods.

For Japanese department stores that are in a difficult situation, it is very important to try to cater to the lucrative Chinese consumers. According to the Japan Department Store Association, department store sales have fallen for 27 consecutive months.

At the same time, the Japanese department store association survey of 40 department stores showed that the spending of foreign tourists led by the Chinese has decreased from one month since March 2009, and every other month has increased.

China and other foreign tourists spent 50% more than in the same period last year, while overall sales of department stores fell 2.1% from a year earlier. A spokeswoman for the Japan Department Store Association said that this is the only area of ​​growth.

According to the Japan Tourism Agency, Chinese tourists spend about 116,568 yen (about $1,300) per person, Taiwan tourists 70,000 yen, and US tourists 25,000 yen.

In Ginza, Tokyo's most exclusive shopping district, the number of shoppers who speak Chinese is comparable to that of Japanese natives.

In the afternoon of Ginza Mitsukoshi, four Chinese women gathered in front of a cosmetics counter and carefully read the plastic card handed by the sales assistant. The card translated the skin conditions such as “acne” and “dry skin” into Chinese.

After the exchange, the sales assistant picked up the phone and handed the phone to the Chinese consumer. Their request was translated into Japanese through a “helpline” bilingual operator.

Ginza Mitsukoshi Department Store has five sales assistants who speak Chinese. One is standing in front of the Shiseido Co. counter. Shiseido is Japan's largest cosmetics company and is well known in China.

Ginza Mitsukoshi department store spokeswoman Tomomi Yun said that from January to May this year, the number of Chinese consumers shopping in duty-free shops increased by 40% from the previous year. The store will add seven new employees who speak Chinese or English in September.

Yun said that foreign tourists contributed 2%-3% to the sales of Mitsukoshi Department Store, mainly Chinese tourists, which grew rapidly. The data was even less than 1% five years ago.

Masaaki Kanno, principal analyst at JP Morgan Chase in Tokyo, said that from the overall macroeconomic perspective, Chinese tourists have little impact on overall retail sales, but the trend is positive, Tokyo department store and Akihabara (Tokyo electronics sales) Large stores in the district will be the biggest beneficiaries of the relaxation of visa regulations.

The Japan Tourism Agency hopes to increase the number of Chinese tourists by more than two times from 1.01 million last year and to 3.9 million in 2013. Koreans are still visiting Japan's largest single-country tourist group. In 2009, 1.59 million Koreans traveled to Japan. According to the Japan Tourism Agency, the number of Chinese tourists in 2013 is expected to exceed that of Korean tourists.

This trend is affected by the decline in the number of Korean tourists visiting Japan in the past three years. The exchange rate seems to be a cause of the decline in visitors. At the end of 2008, the Korean won fell to the lowest point since 1997, and Japan hopes that Korean tourists will return to Japan as the Korean won exchange rate strengthens.

Miki Sato, a spokeswoman for Japan's main travel agency, Japan Travel Bureau, said Chinese consumers visiting Japan like to buy luxury items such as rice cookers, digital cameras, cosmetics and Louis Vuitton handbags.

A spokesman for Yamada Denki, a major electronics retailer in Japan, said that Chinese tourists are concerned about whether the products are made in Japan and more concerned about brands such as Panasonic or Sony.

In the seven-story building of Ikebukuro in the center of Tokyo, Yamada Electric has at least one Chinese speaking staff on each floor and provides Chinese floor guides to consumers. A sales manager at rival Bic Camera said that some Chinese tourists buy three or four identical products, or spend more than 500,000 yen for a camera.

The hotel industry hopes to accommodate more Chinese guests after the visa requirements are relaxed. Prince Hotels Inc., which operates 45 hotels in Japan, expects the number of Chinese guests to increase by at least 10% by the end of March 2011.

In the past two years, the number of Chinese guests received by the Prince Hotel has nearly doubled from 58,000 in 2007, compared with 110,000 in 2009. The Prince Hotel will more than double the number of Chinese employees from the current 11 to 30 in 2016.

Prince Hotel has recently established a branch to strengthen marketing to attract more Chinese guests. It currently allows Chinese tourists to use a debit card called the China UnionPay card.

Yusuke Watanabe, General Manager of Global Business Promotion at Prince Hotel, said that we expect Chinese tourists to increase significantly and we will provide a variety of services to satisfy Chinese guests.

Many Chinese tourists are visiting Japan for the first time. They want to see Tokyo, the snow-covered Mount Fuji and Kyoto. Was photographed in Hokkaido

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