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Average spending by foreign visitors in Tokyo falls, especially among Chinese: survey

The average amount of money spent by a foreign visitor in Tokyo during the last fiscal year has dropped significantly, particularly among Chinese nationals, the greatest supporters of Japanese tourism.

    The average amount of money spent by a foreign visitor while in the Tokyo area declined to 131,871 yen -- a 13 percent drop from the previous year, a Tokyo Metropolitan Government survey has revealed. For Chinese tourists in particular, the fall is even steeper -- 18 percent for a total of 203,816 yen per person. While previously known for their "binge buying," the trend has been dying down, and the consumption of the large number of Chinese visitors in Japan's capital has stagnated.

    The fiscal 2016 survey on the characteristics of foreign visitors by country was carried out at Haneda and Narita international airports from April 2016 to March 2017 using questionnaires. Results were calculated from 12,959 of the 14,744 respondents who were bound for travel within Tokyo.

    Looking at the visitors by their home country or region, individual spending was led by Chinese nationals, followed by Singaporean tourists at 164,758 yen per person, British visitors at 147,476 yen and Italians at 142,593 yen. The places most visited in the capital were Shinjuku Ward's Okubo district at 56.9 percent, Taito Ward's Asakusa district at 48.2 percent, Chuo Ward's Ginza district at 48.1 percent, Shibuya Ward at 43.9 percent and Akihabara that straggles Chiyoda and Taito wards at 41.2 percent.

    When asked what the visitors did during their stays (with multiple answers permitted), the majority at 87.2 percent said that they came to enjoy Japanese cuisine. After gourmet adventures, shopping for Japanese goods came in second at 66.3 percent, followed by 60.7 percent of visitors that were allured by skyscrapers and 53.7 percent who preferred the old to the new, coming to look at traditional architecture.

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has set a goal of having 25 million foreign tourists visit the capital and spend a staggering 2.7 trillion yen when the city hosts the Olympic and Paralympics Games in 2020.

    "The way tourists enjoy their time in the Tokyo area is also shifting from buying things to having experiences," a representative from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's Tourism Division said. "In order to promote spending, connecting those experiences to shopping opportunities and other efforts are necessary."

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