Last week, China’s tourism ministry announced an immediate lifting of restrictions on group travel to 78 countries. The list included Japan and South Korea, that have been long favourites for Chinese travellers, along with Australia, Germany, the UK and the US. Although individuals have been able to travel recently, with limitations from number of flights and the high prices, group travel had remained banned since January 2020 as a part of the pandemic restrictions.
Japan had inbound tourists of about 3 million per month before Covid-19. Bulk of these tourists have come from China pre-pandemic. Visitor arrivals in Japan started to recover in 2022 as most countries eased pandemic restrictions, but Chinese tourists have still been missing. The below chart shows that only 3% of 2019 Chinese tourists have returned to Japan in 2023.