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Chinese tourists skyrocket under the new visa rules

Date Posted: 2011-12-09

An easing of visa requirements for Chinese citizens visiting Okinawa has tourist numbers soaring, and tourism authorities are pleased with the new system.

Chinese tourists are now able to obtain multiple-entry visas under a program established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Foreign Nationals’ Affairs Division, a move that has seen a 33-fold increase in Chinese visitors. Officials say 219 visas were issued to Chinese during the five-month July-November period a year ago, compared with 1,194 in October of this year and 1,566 visitors in November.

The new multiple-entry visa has conditional rules that require at least one night’s stay in Okinawa, and permits the visa holders to visit Japan any time within three years of the visa’s issue. It also allows visitors to stay up to 90 days instead of the usual 15 days.

“It has obtained excellent results” is how Daiichi Hirata, chief of Okinawa Prefecture’s Culture and Sports Promotion Division describes the new procedures. Hirata told the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly several weeks ago that “in the future we will try to improve feelings of satisfaction by improving maintenance in the airport international terminal, by adding Chinese writing at each tourism facility, and by adding and maintaining Chinese-speaking staff.”

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