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Chinese tourists flock to Japan in record numbers

The number of Chinese traveling to Japan surged to a record high in February due to strong demand during the Spring Festival, a weak yen and more convenient visa policies, the Japan National Tourist Organization said yesterday.

A total of 359,000 Chinese tourists visited Japan last month, up 158 percent from a year earlier. Foreign tourists visiting Japan jumped 57.6 percent to 1.39 million in the month, with China ranked first and South Korea second.

"A weak yen together with loosening policies over entry visas and duty-free products attracted Chinese tourists during the holiday in February," Matsuyama Ryoichi, general director at the Japan National Tourist Organization, said in a monthly report.

The yen has tumbled almost 11 percent against the yuan in the last six months and has lost almost a third of its value since 2012.

Japan relaxed multiple entry visa restrictions in January and has extended the scope of duty-free goods since October, giving Chinese tourists further incentive to visit.

Chinese tourists purchased more than 60 billion yen (US$500 million) of goods with UnionPay bank cards during the month, a 250 percent year-on-year increase, according to data compiled by Japan’s Nikkei Newspaper.

"We foresee another tourism boom from China in late March." Matsuyama said. "As the yen remains weak and the cherry trees begin to blossom, we think March and April will be a good time."


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