Tax-free shopping for foreign visitors expands

Following the recent expansion of the list covering tax-free purchases of foreign visitors to include everyday goods, cosmetics and alcoholic beverages among other items, major retail stores in Okinawa have launched tax free counters, started multi-language translation services, and enhanced preparation to receive foreign customers.

AEON Ryukyu has set up a special tax-free counter in its Chatan store starting Oct. 1st.  Mostly tourists from Taiwan and Hong Kong were in the store on the first day of the new system mulling around food items like snacks that were newly added to the tax free products, drug store items like eye drops, heating pads and cosmetics.   Store staff looked busy paying tax returns, and packing purchases at the tax-free counter.

A 35-year-old man from Taiwan bought some local Okinawan specialty goods including sea salt and snacks, and said, “I postponed my travel from the initially scheduled plan as I heard the new tax-free system would start from October.  I am also planning to buy cosmetics and medicines for my family.”

Ryubo has also set up a tax-free counter at the food floor in their flagship Palette Kumoji Ryubo department store, plus in Ryubo stores in Ameku, Nishimachi, and Muji Ameku in Naha, from Oct. 1st.   A person in charge says, “It seems that our overseas tourist customers have increased by about 20 % compared to the day before, at least at our Ryubo department store.”

Don Quijote, the big discount store that has three shops on Okinawa, installed a fax-free counter in the store on Kokusai Street. In addition, they have enhanced their service by having a direct link to their contact center in Tokyo for foreign visitors to Japan in order to answer questions and consult with customers in four foreign languages 24 hours a day.