×

China tourists, weaker yen drive tourist inflows higher in Japan

A sharp decline in the Japanese yen and easier visa rules for Chinese travelers are driving tourists to the Land of the Rising Sun, with the country featuring heavily in holiday destinations lists this season.

"It's not just Tokyo...it's also also some of the smaller destinations in Japan like Kyushu, Fukuoka...A lot of this is also driven by the LCCs (low cost carriers). So the more the LCCs fly to the smaller destinations, that just opens up the market," Asia-Pacific vice president of Hotels.com, Abhiram Chowdhry, told CNBC's Squawk Box on Monday.

The USD/JPY is currently near 121, rising more than 10 percent after the Bank of Japan (BOJ) introduced easing measures in October last year.

The country also relaxed visa requirements for travelers from China from January this year.

The number of tourists to Japan has hit 18 million in the first 11 months of 2015—almost a 50 percent increase from the same period in 2014.

With its goal of 20 million tourists a year within sight, the Japanese government is now raising its annual visitor target to 30 million by 2020, local media reported recently.

According to statistics from the Japan National Tourism Organization, almost a quarter of these tourists are from China.

Over 4.6 million Chinese traveled to Japan in the first 11 months of 2015, a 110 percent increase over the same period in 2014 and a quarter of the total number of visitors to Japan from January to November.

Known for their voracious appetite for shopping, often buying in bulk, Chinese tourists have inspired the buzzword "bakugai" or "explosive buying" in Japan.

During the Golden Week holidays in October, around 400,000 tourists from China descended on Japanese destinations, spending an estimated $830 million in just seven days snapping up everything from cosmetics to high-tech toilet seats.

Tourists visit Senso-ji in Asakusa and draw the O-Mikuji (random fortunes written on strips of paper) on September 1, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan.
Getty Images
Tourists visit Senso-ji in Asakusa and draw the O-Mikuji (random fortunes written on strips of paper) on September 1, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan.

Earlier this month, "bakugai" was selected by publishing company Jiyukokuminsha publishing house as the most popular word of 2015.

Over at home-sharing platform Airbnb, over a million travelers are checking themselves into the homes of strangers to ring in the new year, the company said Friday.

Japan features heavily on Airbnb's destinations list with Tokyo coming in at seventh place in Airbnb's list of the top places in the world to celebrate the New Year, trailing after the top three destinations of New York, Paris and London.

Other than the capital city, Fukuoka, Osaka and Kyoto are also popular among travelers over the New Year, with dramatic on-year surge in bookings this year at 1287, 678 and 417 percent respectively, said Airbnb.


Top places to ring in 2016

1. New York

2. Paris

3. London

4. Sydney

5. Barcelona

6. Berlin

7. Tokyo

8. Amsterdam

9. Rome

10. Miami

(Source: Airbnb)

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.