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China approves Japan, U.S., other destinations for group tourism

South Korea, Australia, Myanmar, India, Pakistan, Turkey also included in list   Nikkei staff writers August 9, 2023 23:58 JST   TOKYO — The Chinese government released a new list of destination countries for outbound group tourism, including Japan, South Korea, Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. on Thursday, a move that will give a lift to retailers and other travel-related businesses in those countries.   According to the announcement, the application process for group tours begins Thursday. New countries approved by the Chinese government include India, Pakistan, Qatar, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Lebanon, Turkey and Israel, Mexico, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden.   China began allowing its citizens to take overseas group tours in February after a roughly three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   The ban has been lifted in stages. Chinese tour groups can visit about 60 countries at present, including those in Southeast Asia, Africa and South America, but Japan has not been on the approved list until now.   China allows individuals to travel to Japan, but the country has relatively strict rules for issuing individual tourist visas, such as a high income threshold. The restrictions are looser for visas for group travel and Beijing’s move is likely to lead to a substantial increase in visitors from China.   A Japan Tourism Agency survey in 2019 found that 30.3% of Chinese visitors to the country for sightseeing or leisure were on group tours. Visitors from mainland China totaled 9.59 million in 2019, about 30% of all overseas visitors to Japan, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.   Although the resumption of group tours will benefit industries such as retail, transportation and hotels, Japan’s tourism sector faces a continued labor crunch. Hotel room rates are also rising as tourists from abroad return.     Source : NIKKEI Asia

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