April 25, 2008
According to Japanese government official reports, the main reason for tourists from other Asian countries to come to Japan is for the shopping. While there are of course luxury brand goods which are found only in the Japan market that are in demand, it is among the most affluent social groups where you will find those who specifically choose Japan for their luxury shopping holidays. It is estimated that tourist spending in Japan is soon to reach ¥2.4 trillion.
To be sure, the spending power of Asian tourists in Japan is not to be taken lightly. After beginning a plan to issue 13,000,000 special "Silver Group" cards to Chinese customers, the Ginza Mitsukoshi department store expects the number of foreign customers to more than double this year along with a corresponding increase in sales.
According to a recent Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) survey, in the previous 10 months the number of Japanese who left Japan on vacation decreased while the number of in-bound foreign tourists increased. In particular Korean and Chinese tourists have been coming to Japan in increasing numbers. 2007 saw the number of Korean tourists increase by 150% compared to the previous year. Many came on the "Golden Route", a 4 night/5 day trip beginning at Kansai International Airport, then to Kyoto, Mt. Fuji, and Tokyo Disneyland.
Recent improvements to Haneda Airport will make the increase in tourists easier to handle, as Japanese businesses were initially not prepared for such increases as have been seen lately. Along with this, businesses are looking to tourists to impact the economy through spending rather than the more conservative Japanese households, an impact which should not be taken lightly according to an SMBC securities analyst. It is hoped that within 10 years the 100,000,000th Chinese tourist will have come to Japan, and these tourists may just be the key to breaking the deadlocked Japanese economy.