The territorial row and bitter war of words between Beijing and Tokyo seem a world away for Chinese tourists, who have Japan at the top of their travel lists.
A survey conducted by US travel information website Travelzoo shows that Japan is the most popular overseas travel destination for Chinese tourists in 2014. Japan jumped from last year’s ranking of 10th to first place, tying with the United States. Both were chosen by 29 percent of mainland Chinese as their preferred destination.
The number of Chinese visitors to Japan almost doubled in just one year, up by 96 percent, according to Bloomberg.
And it’s not that the Chinese are oblivious to the raging tensions between the two nations. More Chinese, especially the younger generation in major cities, appreciate and are willing to pay for the Japanese omotenashi (hospitality) spirit.
The weakened Japanese yen has also made Japan an shopping paradise for Chinese consumers, many of whom have acquired a taste for luxury on which to spend their ever-expanding pool of disposable income.
Japan offers in abundance what increasingly sophisticated Chinese travelers are looking for—rich history, cuisine and culture, says Vivian Hong, the president of Travelzoo’s China operation.
The Chinese respondents, with an average annual salary of more than $50,000, said they are willing to pay $169 per night for accomodations, exceeding the Asian average of $140, The Nikkei reports.
Shirley Xu, CEO of tech design firm Osterhout Communications & Design Co, told the Wall Street Journal she decided to spend her Lunar New Year holiday in Japan because of its fascinating culture and beautiful nature.
“Border disputes aside, the country has a good combination of culture and nature,” Hong said.
Relaxed visa restrictions have also helped paved the way for the influx of Chinese tourists, she added.
However, Japan’s lack of free WiFi is one of the shortcomings that many Chinese tourists point out. Others complained about the lack of electric plug adapters at hotels and the difficulty of finding the ticket machines at subway stations.
By Maesie Bertumen