From tensions with China, to economic slowdown, bad news has dominated most major Japanese headlines for months. But there have been some positive developments on both of those major fronts in October, as the number of Chinese tourists visiting Japan doubled to 445,000, compared to the same period a year ago.
According to Bloomberg, both the weak yen and slackened visa policies were major factors that contributed to the upswing. The Diplomat says duty free shopping and numerous discounts have also highly enticing for Chinese tourists. Other experts note the renowned quality of Japanese products, as opposed to the quality control controversies of many Chinese goods, as another factor.
However, China’s “Golden Week” national holiday, a patriotic reprieve that was put in place to boost China’s own tourism several years ago, was surely a major incentive for PRC citizens to make the trip. The upcoming Olympic games may be another factor, mainly because its technological innovations – including robotic cars – has kept Japan in the headlines of numerous tech news outlets.
Japan also saw a boost in visitors from its other chief regional rival, South Korea, which increased to 378,000 as the second biggest tourist demographic for the month. These totals helped Japan’s overall October tourism increase to 44 percent over last year’s total.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is no doubt thrilled by the news. Tourism has been one of his administration’s chief strategies to counter an ongoing recession. The plan included a goal of attracting 20 million annual visitors by 2020, but seeing as Japan has hosted 16.3 million tourists so far this year, that benchmark has now been raised to 30 million.