China’s move to allow group tours to Japan to resume is cause for celebration even amid chronic shortages in the tourism and hospitality sectors, Japan’s tourism industry said. Group tours in Japan have been banned since January 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to data from the Japan National Tourism Administration, the total number of Chinese tourists to Japan in 2019 was 9.59 million, accounting for 30% of the total number of inbound tourists that year, and has become an important market for the recovery of Japan’s tourism industry. Furthermore, their total spending in 2019 was 1.77 trillion yen ($12 billion), equivalent to 36.8% of the total spending of inbound tourists.
Although Chinese citizens have been allowed to travel to Japan since January, there will only be 590,000 trips in the first half of 2023, equivalent to 13% of inbound tourists. As such, the Japanese tourism industry has been eagerly awaiting the return of Chinese tourists, who accounted for 30.3% of total Chinese tourists in 2019, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.
Koji Shibata, president of ANA Holdings, the parent company of ANA, said the return of Chinese group tours “will stimulate an increase in Japanese corporate tourists and revive the economy”.
“Before the pandemic, we hosted many Chinese groups, so we are preparing for a rapid increase in requests,” said Mariko Iwata, a tour guide in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture.
Lodging agencies are trying to fill staff vacancies before Chinese groups arrive in Autumn Leaf, a popular option for Chinese groups before the pandemic.
Sojern said a “surge” in Chinese tourists was also expected during China’s “National Day Golden Week” from Oct. 1 to 7.
“We’re short-staffed, so it’s a little stressful, but it’s good to see the return of Chinese groups, which were very important to our business before the COVID-19 outbreak,” shared Yasunari Saito, owner of a business. hostel in Hyogo Prefecture.