With few positive signs of recovery for Japan's slumping economy, foreign tourism remains a sole ray of hope, and tourism authorities, local governments, industry players as well as retailers are eagerly awaiting another possibly record-breaking surge in Chinese tourists during next month's Chinese New Year holiday.
Though economists say a tourism boom alone won’t bail the country out of its economic plight, they do see it having a positive impact.
Koichi Haji, managing director of NLI Research Institute, says the “effect in buoying economic sentiment is big.”
Foreign nationals visiting areas outside the capital are also likely to play a key role in revitalizing local economies, one of the key aspects of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policy, said Dai-ichi Life Research Institute Chief Economist Hideo Kumano.
But the current focus on tourism derives mostly from its sheer pace of growth.
From January last year to November, the number of arrivals surged by about 48 percent from the same period a year earlier to an estimated 18 million, according to the government-affiliated Japan National Tourism Organization. A year before that, the visitor count jumped 29 percent.
The latest figure brings the government tantalizingly close to achieving its annual 20 million target set for 2020, the year of the Tokyo Olympics.
Among the flood of arrivals Chinese tourists stand out as the leader. While territorial and historical issues had long been a thorn in the side of bilateral ties, Chinese tourists continue to visit Japan in numbers that outpace other nationalities in size and growth.
JNTO statistics show over 4.6 million Chinese visited Japan from January last year to November, up 109 percent year-on-year.
source by japantimes