Are Chinese Travelers Taking Over Japans Tourism Industry As New Initiatives Roll Out Countrywide?

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While traveling extensively in Japan this month I realized that the amount of tourism services and facilities geared towards Chinese visitors have dramatically increased, especially announcements and placards.

Is this development due to the heightened misconduct of many mainland Chinese travelers or simply because they are such an economic force that the Japanese can’t ignore it any longer?

It was especially notable in the case of the Hilton Narita Airport hotel where I stayed 50+ times and have never noticed any announcements in Mandarin-Chinese as well as breakfast options and notes in the room.

Yet all of a sudden they are everywhere: Announcements on the shuttle bus, simple chinese breakfast dished in the morning (not much actually but I guess the gesture counts for something) as well as detailed information on the work desk.

Hilton Huanying is an initiative by Hilton Worldwide that aims to welcome Chinese travelers globally (read more about it here).

Hilton Worldwide today announced the expansion of Hilton Huanying (huān yίng) – a program that offers Chinese travelers a customized hospitality experience during their stay – to more than 110 Hilton Worldwide properties globally. As Chinese citizens make up the world’s largest outbound travel market1 and are continually evolving in their needs, Hilton has updated the Huanying program amenities and service standards. These offerings meet the needs of the modern day Chinese traveler, while maintaining the comforts that harken back to home.

Mind you, the start of this program dates back two years from today so why now?

Based on information compiled by JTB Tourism Research and Consulting (see their study here) China now ranks second for overseas visitors to Japan, with South Korea taking the first spot and Taiwan the third.


This is an economic force to be reckoned with and so I guess Japan has stepped up their game to cater to Chinese visitors a bit more while at the same time trying to keep them a little in check as can be seen at Ueno Park where the annual Hanami season is about to take off.

It’s been barely a year when Chinese tourists were blasted in online media for climbing onto the Cherry Trees and destroying the branches for picture ops (see John’s article from last year here).


All nice and well, let’s hope the effort from the Japanese Tourist officials pays off and at the same time they won’t flood Japan with unacceptable actions and bad manners like last year. I’ll visit Ueno Park again this weekend and have my camera ready. Unfortunately I missed it when my friend yelled at one of them last week for again touching a branch that had a fresh blossom on it.

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  • SH

    If Japan wants the revenue from Chinese tourism, they have to accept everything that comes with that — simple. Now, Chinese tourists have a pretty bad rep (for good reason) but at the same time Japan is infamous for its xenophobia against all non-Japanese Asians, so this will be interesting to follow for sure.

    • LlamaOfDoom

      “If Japan wants the revenue from Chinese tourism, they have to accept everything that comes with that — simple”

      On the other hand, back in the day of American tourists carrying the banner of “uncouth”, they were chastised with “When in Rome…”. There wasn’t the narrative that other countries had to accept American bad behavior on their land just because they wanted their tourist dollars.

      • Chak

        I think both is true. Chinese as any other tourists should adapt to local customs while Japan and other countries they are visiting have to accept that many of them won’t.

      • yuck

        I agree. That was a stupid comment – or should I say attitude – that the hosting country should accept all forms of disrespect and barbarism of visitors, just because they’re there spending money. I may as well act like a total pompous jerk whenever I feel like it at restaurants because I’m paying to eat there!

    • scholar

      Why you can confirm the bad rep is for Chinese people! You are such racist!!!!!! If all the people who have an Asia face is Chinese! That means all the bad behavior did by this people come to Chinese people! Did you actually see actual Chinese people did something in Japan which is very bad behavior? If not I am kindly advise you please do not judge like that!!!!!! Japanese is a close country to china. Lots of Chinese tourist would like to come to Japan for a short holiday and buy some stuff for memory! There is no obvious mistake if the board come to Chinese ! Same purpose for English speaker people! Besides though English is an wildely used language widely used all over the world! BUT there

      • Chak

        I can confirm the bad reputation the Chinese tourists have and they have earned it very well.

        I can very well differentiate between a Chinese, a Japanese or a Thai person from the look and from the language.

        • scholar

          Chak, okay, lets say Chinese have a bad reputation and have earned very well ! But can you give me some example of Chinese people behavior plz? So I can know if this is target on Chinese people! If you did not actually see that, plz do not say that. As you know the people form Hongkong, Taiwan, Malaysia, ,Singapore all can speak Chinese very well! And I have got an Malaysia friend, unlesss he told me I always thought he is Chinese ! Second I agree with u for tai people is definitely different from Chinese and Japanese !!!! But can you tell me have how can you find the difference between Japanese and Chineee plz? Even Japanese and Chinese and Korea themselves can not find out ! By the way, Japanese language come from Chinese 800 years ago in tang density and has been developed so far, in that case? How can you know the difference?? Even more than a half have the same write.

          • yuck

            scholar, are you Chinese?

          • scholar

            Hi yuck, my family is mixed and some how my answer is yes! What I wanna to say is it is absolutely true as state when in roman do as romans do. Some Chinese have a bad behavior in overseas countries do not represent all. However, if you talk with Chinese people I guess they may not as what u think, some time it is easy to get a conflict due to the culture difference!

          • BenniHK

            Culture diff or civilian diff? We just found the only diff is civilised or not yet. (it’s more funny in Chinese: 文化差異 : 有文化 vs 無文化) lmao!

          • BenniHK

            Let me share joke when I was checking in a london hotel last mth. The guy checked me in tried to start some chat so asked whether I m from chi na, and I replied single word “hk” (I was tired due to flight delay). And he continued with single word “diff?” which I noticed I was abit rude b4. So I tried to be nicer and said “well, at least we won’t pee or shxt in the public…” and he non stop laughed. Then he revealed that actually it’s so easy to distinguish where are we from even before we open our mouth – the attitude.

          • LlamaOfDoom

            Yep, the British heritage definitely had a positive impact.

          • BenniHK

            Don’t lie and face the reality pls! Mainlanders could be so easily differentiated from hkers taiwanese malaysian and so on from their behaviour and outlook! Plus although u can claim all those ppl speak “Chinese”, in fact they all speak differently (and some are basically speaking totally diff language). Though 200% mainland Chinese tourist tried so hard to hide their origin and pretending from somewhere else, only themselves believe they did a great job (actually just another joke from the others eyes).
            Everyone knows well how you mainlanders earn the bad rep around the globe, including mainlanders themselves (that’s why they always pretend). So stop bs “few Chinese not representing the whole group”, as they just do!

          • LlamaOfDoom

            “And I have got an Malaysia friend, unlesss he told me I always thought he is Chinese”

            Internal bias at work; to someone without internalized assumptions, Malaysians speaking Mandarin sound *very* different from actual PRC Chinese.

            “But can you tell me have how can you find the difference between Japanese and Chineee plz?”

            The way they dress, the way they act, including how loudly they speak in public.

        • yuck

          And the excessive volume they speak in.

  • Haitao Sun

    The Chinese signs and announcements are always there, for years. I lived in a small village in the Shikoku Island for a while, the bus announcements there are done in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean, and there’s barely any tourists or foreigners.
    Japan is known for their high level of service and their attentions to details. Of course China’s growing economic presence has some effect, but what you mentioned has more to do with how Japanese work. If there are foreigners from another country, even if only a few of them, they will prepare documents and signs in the corresponding language.
    It is incredibly nice to be a tourist in Japan, but if you want to become a citizen or resident there, it is a whole different story…

  • dave the knave

    “Unfortunately I missed it when my friend yelled at one of them last week
    for again touching a branch that had a fresh blossom on it…” I personally would love to see a video of a female Chinese tourist slapping Sebastian for sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong.

  • Joseph Merrick

    Ignorance is not a chinese monopoly. I found during my travels it is mostly who ever forms the majority of tourists behaves the worst. Now, in the future this will naturally be China in many destinations. On the other hand, China is the only government (that I know of) who punishes citizens who misbehave abroad with denial of exit visas. I would very much like to see Germans or Brits getting stopped at the airport, because they have puked all over the beaches of Mallorca and Ibiza or engaged in illegal prostitution in South-East Asia the year before.

    But, in my humble opinion, Mr. Powells article is once again narrow-minded and racist. I think it shows how afraid some Europeans are to lose their (mostly unearned and unjustified) privileges to the rising economies in Asia.

  • Tso Shun Nam

    On a par with American tourists.
    Yes. This is a completely racist and unfair generalization.