Japan sees lower number of Chinese visitors over Lunar New Year

Japan welcomed fewer Chinese tourists than expected over the recent Lunar New Year, despite the country’s previous popularity during the period and this year being the first Spring Festival celebrated without travel restrictions following the lifting of a Covid-induced Chinese ban on group tours to Japan in August 2023.

The number of Japan visas issued to mainland China-based travellers for the holiday was only 60 per cent of the number issued over the same period in 2019, according to the Japanese embassy in Beijing.

Narita International Airport saw about half the number of Chinese tourists this Lunar New Year as compared to the same period in 2019 (Photo: CAPTAINHOOK)

Chinese inbound bookings over February 10-17 reached 40 per cent of the level in 2019, largely due to the number of flights between Japan and China remaining at only 50 to 60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, according to major airlines.

Narita International Airport welcomed around half of the number of Chinese tourists it did over Lunar New Year in 2019, according to a spokesperson.

At Kansai International Airport, flight capacity from China reached 70 to 80 per cent during the eight-day holiday, but the number of flights between Japan and China is only about 40 per cent of what it was in 2019, according to Kansai-based airlines.

Other destinations including Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, where Chinese travellers can stay visa-free for up to 30 days under new visa-exemption agreements, saw record numbers of Chinese arrivals.

Total bookings to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand over February 10-17 were 30 per cent higher than over the same period in 2019, according to Trip.com.

South Korea’s Justice Ministry also reported that Chinese visitors during Lunar New Year were up four per cent from 2019.

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