Chinese tourists cancel trips to Japan amid island spat

Chinese tourists cancel trips to Japan amid island spat

Tourists from Beijing and Shanghai are changing course for the upcoming National Day holiday
Chinese tourists pose with Hello Kitty at Narita Airport. Shopping, cherry blossoms and cute cartoon characters have all been popular with Chinese tourists visiting Japan. (File photo)

Some Chinese tourists from Beijing and Shanghai are calling off holiday plans to Japan for the upcoming National Day holiday, according to Chinese media.

The cancellations come after the Japanese government's September 11 approval of the purchase of several small, disputed islands from  a private Japanese owner, the Kurihara family, for 2.05 billion yen (US$26.2 million).

Both China and Japan claim sovereignty of the islands, which are known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu Dao (钓鱼岛) in China.

Safety concerns

Chinese tourists have expressed concerns for their safety in Japan given the current political situation, reported Shanghai Daily, Shanghai's official English-language newspaper. 

More on CNN: China sends patrol ships to islands at center of dispute with Japan

National Day holiday, aka Golden Week, is one of two annual occasions during which many Chinese travel, especially overseas. The other is Spring Festival.

This year's National Day holiday falls one day after the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday. The combined vacation will last from September 30 to October 7.

Trips to Japan have been popular in China

Tour agencies in Shanghai say around 20 percent of their customers have cancelled trips to Japan, as reported by state-run Chinanews.com.

An anonymous expert from China Tourism Academy told Chinanews that there was a possibility of "Chinese tourists scrapping orders in bulk" in the future.

According to the same source, routes such as the "six-day experience trip" and "six-day dual-hot spring comfortable trips" to Honshu in Japan have recently been hugely popular throughout China.

The Japan Tourism Agency says Chinese tourists ranked as the largest spenders by country in Japan in 2011.

Some 1 million Chinese spent approximately 196.4 billion yen (about US$2.43 billion) last year, accounting for almost a quarter of the total spending by foreign travelers in Japan.

This isn't the first time Chinese tourists have re-routed in the wake of political disagreement. China suspended all group tours to the Philippines in May due to the diplomatic spat over Scarborough Shoal, or Huangyan Island (黄岩岛).

More on CNN: Chinese travelers ditch the Philippines, re-route to Bali, Phuket and Jeju

Many of the country's tourists have since changed course to other resort islands in Asia.

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