Border disputes, schmorder disputes. Japan, it turns out, is the most desired destination for wealthy Chinese travelers this year, according to a report released by Travelzoo Asia-Pacific, followed by the US and Taiwan.
The surprising report follows a year of rising tensions between the two Asian powers concerning territorial disputes over contested islands in the East China Sea as well as some more recent (and totally mature) controversies involving a certain prime minister’s visit to a certain war shrine.
Around 29 percent of respondents from mainland China said that Japan was their top travel destination this year. The ranking has jumped significantly from the same survey in 2013, where Japan was ranked as the 10th preferred destination for mainland travelers.
Wall Street Journal explains:
During their trips to Japan, Chinese travelers have snapped up items from Louis Vuitton bags to $1,000 rice cookers, according to Vivian Hong, president of Travelzoo’s China operation, Travelzoo Lv You Zu.
Japan has long been a popular destination for travelers from Hong Kong and Taiwan because of the country’s relative proximity and distinct culture. But it’s only recently that mainland Chinese travelers have begun to appreciate its scenery, food and atmosphere. Easing visa restrictions after the 2012 earthquake has also helped, according to Ms. Hong.
The US came in at number two in Travelzoo’s top destination list for Chinese travelers, moving up from from fifth place on the list last year. WSJ’s Wei Gu attributes this jump to an increasing number of people going to the US for campus visits and outlet shopping. Gu also said that the rise of America’s popularity has in part contributed to Australia falling six places on the list from last year. Taiwan rose to number three in the list from number four last year, and New Zealand came in at number four.
While Chinese tourists are becoming fonder of visiting foreign countries, the feeling isn’t mutual among foreign travelers visiting China. Jason Yap, CEO of Travelzoo (Asia Pacific) Inc., noted that although listings of overseas travel products are doing well on its Chinese site, travel deals for China aren’t selling as well on its websites outside the country.
The rising rate of the yuan is seen as one factor for the lack of tourists coming in from neighboring countries, and of course, endless headlines detailing the country’s choking smog problem is not exactly welcoming vacationers.
According to official figures, the total number of tourists who came to Beijing in the first 11 months of 2013 dropped by more than 10 percent from 4.2 million the previous year, and foreign tourist visits fell by 11 percent.
[Image Credit: nathan makan // The Wall Street Journal]