Japan's cherry blossom season attracting record travelers

In the cherry blossom season in March and April, it is expected that a record number of Chinese visitors will travel to Japan to view the flowers, fueled by further relaxation of Japanese visa requirements, especially for college students.

According to Qunar, an online travel firm that was acquired by Ctrip, China's largest online travel agency, the number of Chinese who booked trips through the platform to see cherry blossoms in spring in Japan has jumped by more than 30 percent for the past three years. 

The number of visitors from the Chinese mainland traveling to Japan surged to a record 8 million up to November 2018, with their total spending exceeding 100 billion yuan (14.9 billion U.S. dollars).

A Kyoto train traveling amid the blossoms. /VCG Photo

A Kyoto train traveling amid the blossoms. /VCG Photo

"With the growing popularity of themed tours, more Chinese people want to take personalized and tailored trips based on their own preferences, and a trip to view cherry blossom is a good example," said Harry Huang, president of Qunar ticketing business group.

With different dates for cherry blossoms in different regions in Japan, Chinese visitors started to search and compare travel information almost 26 days ahead of their planned trip on average, and Tokyo is the top overseas destination for cherry blossom viewing, Qunar found.

This year, among the Chinese visitors who have plans to view cherry blossoms in Japan, female visitors account for 61 percent and the majority of them are aged between 24 and 35. Chinese visitors aged 52 and above are also becoming a new growth point for trips to view cherry blossoms in Japan, according to Qunar.

Girls in kimonos viewing cherry blossoms. /VCG Photo

Girls in kimonos viewing cherry blossoms. /VCG Photo

Visitors from Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin make up the majority of the total, while the numbers of visitors from Chengdu, Sichuan Province, and Chongqing have seen the fastest increases. Besides, Wuhan in Hubei Province, Qingdao in Shandong Province, Xi'an in Shaanxi Province and Kunming in Yunnan Province have become the top domestic cities for cherry blossom viewing.

Meanwhile, prices for flights to Japan are expected to remain largely unchanged from last year's levels during the February-March period. Several carriers have launched new routes connecting China and Japan to meet the growing demand of visitors wanting to see cherry blossoms.

In addition to departures from major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, some domestic carriers launched new flights departing from Shandong, Zhejiang and Sichuan provinces. Tianjin Airlines, Japanese airline ANA, and Korean Air have introduced special round-trip packages priced between 1,800 yuan and 2,300 yuan, including taxes, according to Qunar.

(Cover: Flowers bloom in  Ehime Prefecture, Japan. /VCG Photo)

Source(s): China Daily