Japanese tourists to China decline 25% in 1st half of 2013

The number of Japanese tourists to China in the first six months of this year dropped 25.5 percent from a year earlier to 1.39 million, according to government data released by Wednesday.

In June alone, the number fell 30.2 percent to 221,500, data from China's National Tourism Administration showed. It was the 12th straight month of decline.

The slump appears related to both an ongoing diplomatic dispute between China and Japan over a group of Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea, which China also lays claim to, and to growing concerns about severe air pollution in China.

The slump is a blow to the inbound Chinese tourism industry as Japanese tourists to China make up the second largest number of arrivals, after holidaymakers from South Korea.

Also Wednesday, the Japan National Tourism Organization said the number of Chinese tourists to Japan in the first half of this year dropped 27 percent from a year earlier to 536,200, but overall foreign arrivals in Japan reached a record high 4.95 million, up 22.8 percent largely on the back of a weaker yen and the popularity of low-cost carriers.

As for China, the number of foreign travelers in the first six months was 12.75 million, down 5.2 percent.

Visitors from South Korea eased 5.5 percent to 1.90 million, while those from the United States, the third largest number of arrivals, slid 2.5 percent to 1.06 million.