Chinese tour groups have been noticeably absent from the flocks of travelers returning to post-pandemic Japan. That’s about to change with China’s lifting of a ban on group travel, which could drive tourist spending in Japan beyond pre-Covid levels.
Spending by tourists had mostly recovered by mid-2023 after the island nation relaxed most of its border restrictions late last year, despite the number of visitors from China being down 85% from before the pandemic. Until Thursday, when restrictions lifted, travelers from Asia’s largest economy have been limited to those on business and individuals organizing trips and visas on their own.
“Spending by visitors to Japan have already returned a lot versus 2019 levels,” said Kanako Uchimura, a researcher at the Japan Research Institute. “If Chinese group tourists come back, that amount may easily exceed pre-pandemic levels within the year.”
Tourism spending in Japan was ¥1.2 trillion for the April to June period — a roughly 95% recovery from the same period in 2019, according to data from the Japan Tourism Agency. Chinese tourists only made up about 13% of that total this year, compared with more than a third in 2019.
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