7 March 2016
The Weekly

Thai tourists are now in the sights of Japanese department stores after their success in luring Chinese during Lunar New Year. Such companies as Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings and J.Front Retailing, which run the Daimaru and Matsuzakaya department stores, are ramping up efforts to lure Thai tourists during their traditional New Year holiday Songkran, which this year runs from April 13 to 15. A weaker yen has helped boost tourism numbers to Japan, and visitors from Thailand have grown steadily to nearly 800,000 last year following the relaxing of visa requirements in July 2013. While most foreign visitors last year came from China, they were followed in volume by South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the US and then Thailand. Isetan Mitsukoshi and J.Front issued pamphlets and other materials to promote their Japanese stores during the Thai International Travel Fair at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center on February 21, one of Southeast Asia's largest travel-industry events. They mainly targeted Thai travel agencies. J.Front's Daimaru and Matsuzakaya stores distributed flyers with discount coupons, and also plans to hand them out aboard Asia Atlantic Airlines flights between Thailand and Sapporo. The coupons will also be given to tourists buying the Japan Rail Pass at Thai outlets of Japanese travel agency HIS. Daimaru's store in Sapporo has even prepared a floor guide in Thai language. Matsuya, another Japanese department-store chain, will give preferential treatment to customers of three Thai banks - Bank of Ayudhya, Kasikornbank and Krung Thai Bank - at its Ginza store in Tokyo. They will receive discounts and gifts. Visitors from Thailand spent a total of Y120bn (US$1bn) in Japan last year, up a quarter on 2014's figures, according to a survey by the Japan Tourism Agency.