The Chinese government may be arresting alleged Japanese spies and facing off with Japan over islands in the South China Sea, but Chinese tourists couldn’t care less.
About 400,000 Chinese nationals, nearly double the amount last year, celebrated the Oct. 1, 1949 founding of the People’s Republic of China by traveling to Japan and buying as much stuff as they could possibly fit on the plane back to the mainland, reported Shanghaiist.
They bought nearly 100 billion yen, or $830 million, worth of goods, according to the government paper People’s Daily.
The 7-day holiday known was Golden Week has become a major travel event for the Chinese and is growing more popular each year.
The Chinese spending spree lifted the Japanese economy by 0.1%, a 20-year high, according to Global Blue, an international company that handles tax refunds for international shoppers. The Chinese like going to Japan because of the cultural affinity, but the big driver was the devalued yen makes all the quality merchandise much cheaper.
That’s not exactly a sign of two countries about to start shooting at each other over some territorial dispute.
The hot items the Chinese tourists went for were medical drugs, household items such as thermoses, shavers, luxury goods, and toilet seats, according to People’s Daily. One can just imagine what it must have been like watching all those people carry their own toilet seats on the plane.
One of the newest growth sectors in Japan is medical tourism, as the Chinese appear to want better service than they can get at home.
During the first four days of the holiday week, tourists leaving China grew by 37% year over year, according to the Nationwide Tourist Group Services Management System.
Japan was the top destination, followed closely by Thailand and South Korea. Hong Kong and Macau were the fourth and fifth most popular spots.
Retailers in the host countries are becoming much more accommodating to Chinese consumers. Even France is putting out signs written in Chinese and hiring Chinese-speaking shopping assistants.
And in what should be a big boost to the Chinese economy, many people took trips on the mainland, more than 750 million, according to government news agency Xinhua. Sales at restaurants and retailers jumped 11% from last year to 1.08 trillion yuan, said Reuters.