Japanese investment giant Softbank has set up an inbound tourism OTA that will be launched on Alitrip, Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba’s travel platform, on November 11.
Softbank's Chairman Masayoshi Son was one of the first investors in Alibaba's Jack Ma
An early investor in Alibaba, Softbank currently holds a 32% stake in the online company. Softbank’s OTA will offer off-the-beaten-track travel itineraries and destinations in Japan to Chinese tourists.
A Softbank spokesperson said the company is aiming to meet demand from a growing number of independent travelers to venture beyond the typical itinerary of large tour groups along the “Golden Route” that include major Japanese cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.
She said the OTA expects annual sales to reach around 20 billion yen by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Softbank has also been learning from the experience of Japan’s largest tour operator, JTB Corp.
The number of Chinese visitors to Japan has skyrocketed in recent years and this has become an important driver for Japan’s economic growth. The major devaluation of the yen since late 2012 has definitely played a part in the boom. By the end of September this year, Japan had received 3.8 million Chinese visitor arrivals, already higher than the full-year Chinese arrivals of 2.4 million last year.（Translation by David)