Foreign tourist spending on high-priced goods surges in Japan

TOKYO, Dec 21 (Nikkei) - Spending by foreign and domestic travelers in Japan is increasing as the central government relaxes COVID-related restrictions.

The number of inbound travelers, especially wealthier visitors, is increasing due to the easing of border controls. Duty-free sales to date in December have exceeded pre-pandemic results for the same period at some department stores. And as domestic travel picks up, many hotels are reporting an average daily rate (ADR) topping pre-pandemic levels for December.

On Oct. 11, Japan lifted the ban on individual travel for inbound visitors and began to allow visa-free entry from certain countries. The number of inbound visitors in October increased 2.4 times from the previous month to 490,000, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO). Although the number in October was only about 20% that of October 2019, tourists from South Korea firmed back to around 60%. Visitors from Southeast Asia, the U.S. and Europe are also increasing.

High-priced purchases by foreign tourists are increasing thanks to a weaker yen. According to the Japan Department Stores Association, duty-free sales in November at Takashimaya and four other high-end department stores rebounded to between 50% and 90% of sales in November 2019. Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings logged a 4% increase in duty-free sales at stores in the Tokyo metropolitan area in the first 2 weeks of December compared with the same period in 2019. ...continue reading