national

Kyoto tourist crowds disappearing due to coronavirus outbreak

31 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Ordinarily, travelers from China make up the largest contingent of foreign visitors to Japan. However, with the cornonavirus prompting the Chinese government to place restrictions on outbound overseas group tours, Japan’s inbound international travel numbers are plummeting, especially in Kyoto, one of the top destinations for Chinese tourists.

In speaking to the Kyoto Shimbun newspaper, several Kyoto shopkeepers reported decreased traveler traffic. The 50-something owner of a souvenir shop near Kinkakuji, Kyoto’s world-famous Golden Pavilion, says the crowds are only about half the size that they usually are for this time of year. Merchants near other major attractions made similar observations.

“This is the most dramatic drop in traveler traffic I’ve seen [in over 30 years],” said a shopkeeper near Kiyomizudera temple. Another store owner, located near the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shinto shrine, lamented “On busy days, we used to have 200 tour busses coming in, but now it’s just a few. I stocked up on extra product because I thought we’d have a lot of tourists during Chinese New Year, and local restaurants hired extra workers. I hope the situation turns around soon.”

The coronavirus outbreak seems to also be affecting domestic travel to Kyoto, since the city is well-known to be popular with Chinese travelers, and independent travel from China to Japan is still possible. The Kinkakuji-area shop owner said the number of Japanese and Western visitors is also down, and a 73-year-old women from Japan’s Aichi Prefecture, who’d arrived in Kyoto for sightseeing said she’d considered cancelling her travel plans to the city. In the end, she decided to come anyway, but said she’s “concerned” about the possibility of coronavirus infection, and that she’s been making sure to wear a surgical mask, use hand sanitizer, and gargle regularly on her trip.

The city of Nara is also feeling the effects. Less than an hour by train from Kyoto, Chinese tours often bundle the two cities into the same itinerary.

The coronavirus outbreak is likely to take significant time to resolve, but in the meantime, if you’d like to see Kyoto and Nara without the large crowds that have become the norm, plus help out the cities’ hospitality workers, this could be the best timing for your visit.

Sources: Kyoto Shimbun, Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japanese travelers are avoiding Kyoto as the city’s number of foreign visitors continues to grow

-- Japan’s 10 best cultural experience activities/tours, as chosen by travelers

-- Amazing pics from Kyoto/Nara “bullet tour” show no matter how tight your schedule, you should go

© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

31 Comments
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I have to give China credit on this one. They are doing the world a favor by limiting travel out of China to foreign destinations. In this case I would say commend the Chinese government.

I still detest what happened to the hero Li Wenliang (being threatened with arrest if he continued to talk about the "new SARS"). I think inside of China this is far, far worse than what we are being told. China would not decimate their economy unless something was really wrong.

And now those suspected of having the virus or being near people who have had the virus are being rounded up and forcibly removed from their homes

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7980883/Video-shows-officials-protective-suits-dragging-suspected-coronavirus-carriers-homes.html

10 ( +10 / -0 )

It is staggering to witness the complete sea change which is going on-the Chinese tourists have completely dominated Japan’s tourism until now!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

May be a good time for me to visit Kyoto.

17 ( +18 / -1 )

Back to normal. Great time to visit Osaka and Kyoto.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

I guess it doesn’t help when you vendors putting signs in their windows telling Chinese people to stay out like that joker in Hakone.

It just shows how fickle the Japanese economy is. They put all their eggs in the Chinese basket and now they are screwed.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

Well many in Kyoto were complaining about too many tourists/visitors.

25 ( +25 / -0 )

It just shows how fickle the Japanese economy is. They put all their eggs in the Chinese basket and now they are screwed.

At the same time the people that pour money into the pockets of the Japanese are overwhelming the Chinese tourists. No other group spends that kind of cash in this society. Like them or not, they’re the juggernaut food supply to and for the Japanese lifeline.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

I can only imagine how the golden week holidays will be affected by this. Japan will lose billions.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Well in a way this is what Kyoto wanted in the first place as was reported last year among one of their biggest complaints: too many tourists.

Seems like their wish came true.

21 ( +21 / -0 )

@zichi

The loudest complaints were coming from the Japanese themselves.....

10 ( +11 / -1 )

It all boils down to this: do you want lots of noisy tourists or do you want zero profits?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Now the people who were whining can get some peace and quiet. That is what they wanted, right?

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Pukey2Today  11:55 am JST

It all boils down to this: do you want lots of noisy tourists or do you want zero profits?

No it doesn't boil down to that, it's just superficial reasoning.

A staggering amount of people avoid tourist areas because there's so many Chinese tourists. While they might not spend as much per capita, the long term benefit of diversified (there, I said it) tourism from both locals and international visitors protects an area from sudden drops in numbers like is happening now.

Osaka Dotonbori is 'dominated' by Chinese tourists because practically everyone else stays away. Once the word gets out that the tourist spots are queitening down the locals and more seasoned tourists will come back in droves and normalcy will resume.

-2 ( +8 / -10 )

One of my students often complains about "all those Chinese tourists" and says he won't go to certain parts of Osaka and Kyoto so he doesn't have to "hear their loud talking" as he puts it.

Now that his city is losing billions, I hope he's happy and he can go back where he only has to hear the quiet and demure Japanese.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Well, at least they have the Korean tourists to fall back on.

Oh wait.

4 ( +11 / -7 )

May be a good to visit Kyoto

well, there are no Chinese, so it sounds like it.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

I can only imagine how the golden week holidays will be affected by this. Japan will lose billions.

Why? Golden Week is a domestic holiday. In fact, many foreign tourists avoid Japan during GW because of the crowds.

The billions they will lose will be during Sakura Hanami, which begins in late-March this year, and possibly even the Olympics, if the virus isn't under control by then. (The one ray of sunshine from this would be if they postponed the Olympics to Autumn, thus sparing the athletes and attendees from the brutal heat and humidity of the Tokyo summer.)

12 ( +13 / -1 )

We're the exact same way in Washington DC. We complain bout the tourist coming in, but they provide so much revenue. I am very scared of this virus, but will be traveling to Tokyo next week. Considered stopping into Kyoto myself. I don't want to come off as xenophobic, especially as I will be a foreigner myself, but this pandemic has me scared. We are only hearing about this from the Chinese government and they have not let outside help in. When this is consuming so many people, I'd like the US CDC or a third party equivalent to assist and get more information too. I feel bad for all the people affected by this.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Why? Golden Week is a domestic holiday. In fact, many foreign tourists avoid Japan during GW because of the crowds.

Because even the Japanese ate wary of this virus. Every golden week, millions of Japanese travel throughout Japan and other parts of Asia. This will undoubtedly be affected by the virus. You will see the headlines soon enough.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Because even the Japanese ate wary of this virus. Every golden week, millions of Japanese travel throughout Japan and other parts of Asia. This will undoubtedly be affected by the virus. You will see the headlines soon enough.

The travel to other parts of Asia will not affect the Japanese economy, other than whatever commissions travel agents may lose.

And, most likely, the fear of travel outside of Japan will probably lead to an increase of domestic travel within Japan, making up for whatever lost foreign-tourist revenue there might be.

Of course, this will depend on whether or not SARS 2:The Sequel becomes a major health issue within Japan. There weren't very many stricken and zero SARS deaths back in 2002/2003, in Japan. But, the number of Chinese visitors per year has increased almost 20-fold since then. So, the extent of the outbreak remains to be seen.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@garypenToday  02:24 pm JST

I can only imagine how the golden week holidays will be affected by this. Japan will lose billions.

Why? Golden Week is a domestic holiday. In fact, many foreign tourists avoid Japan during GW because of the crowds.

The billions they will lose will be during Sakura Hanami, which begins in late-March this year, and possibly even the Olympics, if the virus isn't under control by then. (The one ray of sunshine from this would be if they postponed the Olympics to Autumn, thus sparing the athletes and attendees from the brutal heat and humidity of the Tokyo summer.)

totally agree with everything you said one small issue that may affect it though, your being logical....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well,

Maybe they will stop asking me if I can speak Mandarin when I go to LVMH or Burberry now.  My wife and I as long time customers of luxury brands where treated like 2nd rate clients, as we are not Chinese.

The same in all those tourist destinations, 5 star hotels. As soon as they saw someone from mainland China they dropped everything.

Now, they are so kind to us again. 

Service does not exist anymore, only sales and any problem after that, is your problem.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

When a potential tourist looks on-line to assess the situation in Japan, they will also note the high number viral cases.

Rightly or wrongly, that is the perception.

Speaking with a Thai yesterday, she expressed a desire to visit Japan-was it safe?

She wondered....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I’ve been told Kyoto is always crowded with Chinese tourists but now might be the time to go.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Enjoy the pause whilst it lasts, it will be back to the crowds by summer.

No better time to do the tourist thing than now.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Enjoy Kyoto in the peace and tranquility that it deserves!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

“On busy days, we used to have 200 tour busses coming in, but now it’s just a few. I stocked up on extra product because I thought we’d have a lot of tourists during Chinese New Year, and local restaurants hired extra workers. I hope the situation turns around soon.”

That's funny... I thought the mayor of Kyoto himself said "We don't need tourists in Kyoto", and one of the first things a lot of Japanese have to say about the Corona Virus is, "At least there are fewer Chinese." I'm glad there are some folks out there that realize how much foreign visitors, and domestic tourists as well, contribute to the local economy and spread of Japanese culture. Who is Kyoto going to brag to and stick its nose up at and talk about how their vegetables are unique to if there are no outsiders around?

1 ( +7 / -6 )

factchecker: "Enjoy Kyoto in the peace and tranquility that it deserves!"

Kyoto would die out without tourists, plain and simple, and it nearly did fade in the late 19th century until it adapted its waterways to get more shipping and tourists in by ship.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Yes, it's quite ironic how Kyoto is dependent on outsiders but really doesn't like to acknowledge it ....

This virus will badly dent Japan's economy but while people not in the trade will celebrate it, the government will be tearing its hair out because the Chinese bring in so much money

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Great posts @smithinjapan and @Wobot.

It's interesting to see the love/hate relationship that many Japanese (specially the business owners) have with the Chinese.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The world simply cannot function without China.

They provide so much money to the world.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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