Sharp fall in number of Chinese tourists to Japan during Lunar New Year following island spat
Washington, Feb 9 : The number of Chinese tourists travelling to Japan during the Lunar New Year holiday has dropped more than 50 percent as compared to a year earlier following the territorial dispute between China and Japan over the Senkaku Islands.
According to Wang Yatnien, president of the Tokyo-based Sogo World Travel Ltd for which Chinese visitors account for around a third of business, the number of their Chinese customers has plummeted to 50 percent from a year earlier to around 2,000-3,000, Wall Street Journal reports.
Yatnien added that although individual Chinese travelers have returned to Japan with the weakening of the yen, Chinese tour groups remained notably absent, as travel agencies in China still refrained from arranging Japan trips.
Chinese airlines have also shifted from the Japanese market as a result of drop in demand, which is contributing to a drop in international airfares out of China during the new-year period compared with last year.
According to data from online tourist agency Mangocity.com Ltd, the drop in travelers to Japan, along with overloaded airlines, have decreased ticket prices by 36 percent as compared to last year.
However, Chinese travel website Ctrip.com has stated that there is still a strong international travel demand from China despite the drop in travelers to Japan, as the total number of travelers booking international trips at the website grew 40-50 percent during the new-year break from a year earlier.
This year, Thailand and South Korea have knocked Japan off the list as China's top international holiday market for the weeklong Lunar New Year break, according to Ctrip.com.
The Lunar New Year, which officially starts over the weekend, is the busiest travel season of the year for Chinese and a time to see family or spend time overseas. International travel has seen particularly strong growth in recent years on the back of a stronger Chinese currency.