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Island issue sinks China-Japan tourism (2)

By Xin Dingding and Zhang Yunbi (China Daily)

08:12, January 22, 2013

The former growing trend of Chinese tourists visiting Japan began to reverse in September, when ties between the countries soured, and by October, monthly visitor figures slumped, according to the Japanese tourism organization.

In August, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Japan had increased by 88 percent year-on-year. In October, it plummeted by 33.1 percent year-on-year. November continued the trend with a 43.6 percent year-on-year decline.

Japanese tourism in China followed a similar trend.

According to the China National Tourism Administration, 226,100 Japanese tourists visited China in November, down 31 percent year-on-year.

The numbers also declined in September (22 percent) and October (27 percent).

Tourism authorities in both countries have not disclosed the extent of financial losses due to the sudden cooling off.

However, Zhang Qingzhu, a spokeswoman for China Comfort Travel in Beijing, said the company suffered an estimated loss of 20 million yuan ($3.2 million) after it voluntarily canceled Japan-bound tour products and stopped cooperation with Japanese counterparts last year.

"Seeing relations with Japan haven't softened, we're looking to South Korea, because the flight distance is similar to Japan's," she said. The travel service aims to send 100,000 Chinese tourists to South Korea this year.

Industry insiders say they see no sign of a quick recovery, even though the yen lost 10 percent of its value in the past three months, making Japanese visits cheaper for Chinese tourists.

Many Internet users said they would not visit Japan even if the currency devaluation makes the deal good value.

"Even if we didn't have to pay for anything, we should boycott trips to Japan," a netizen wrote on Sina Weibo, a popular micro-blogging website.

Wu Shiqing, a Beijing resident, said that although she has always planned to see Japan for herself one day, "this is not the right time".

Contact the writers at [email protected] and [email protected]

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