As yen goes down, number of tourists to Japan goes up
By Annie Yang, Special to The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- As the yen keeps slipping and sliding, the number of Taiwanese traveling to Japan reached 1.11 million over the first half of the year, 1.5 times as many as in the same period last, according to the Tourism Bureau.
August 20, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
Travel agencies estimate that the trend will continue throughout the rest of 2013, during which maple viewing and hot spring tours reach their peak in popularity, leading to a total of 2 million Taiwanese visitors this year.
The Japanese economy, which has been largely stagnant for two decades, has expanded under Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's so-called Abenomics, which won him a return to office last December.
Among Abe's economic policies is a push to weaken the yen so as to boost Japanese exports. The weakened currency has also decreased accommodation and other living expenses, leading to the rise in travel to Japan.
Chen, Zi-jia (陳子嘉), manager of the Best Way Travel, said that although basic costs have been lowered, the cost of flight tickets has risen by 13-15 percent.
“Japanese travel has swept over Taiwan this year,” said Spunk Tour Chairman Chen Shu-zhuang (陳世庄).
According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, Taiwanese travelers in Japan have numbered over 900,000 people in June alone, surpassing the number of South Korean visitors to become the biggest source of foreign tourists.
According to a Nielson survey of Taiwanese people, 83 percent of respondents said they would like to go on a trip to Japan.
Seventy-nine percent said they are drawn to Japan because of its natural beauty, while 76 percent said the same of its local culture, 69 percent of its sanitary environment, 68 percent of its cuisine and 64 percent were interested in visiting because of the historical buildings and old-style streets.
A different study by the Japan Interchange Association found that Japan was the favorite country of 43 percent of Taiwanese, more even than the U.S.
Fewer Japanese Tourists to Taiwan
Japanese tourists to Taiwan, however, have decreased to 660,606 over the first half of 2013 — a fall of around 8 percent compared to last year, the Tourism Bureau said. Over 1.4 million Japanese sightseers traveled to Taiwan last year.
The bureau said the falling number should serve as a warning to local tourism operators. Officials said the drop-off is likely due to the weakened currency, which means Japanese currently prefer domestic travel to international trips. Japanese tourist numbers to other countries have also dropped.