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China's Ctrip to sell Japan rail tickets via app

Booking giant seeks greater inroads into key travel destination

Chinese travelers usually by tickets to the shinkansen and other Japanese trains after arriving in Japan. (Photo by Yusuke Yokota)

SHANGHAI -- China's largest online travel agency, Ctrip.com, will offer tickets to Japan's shinkansen bullet trains through its app starting in May, hoping to increase its presence abroad as the likes of Alibaba Group Holding close in back home.

Ctrip is partnering with East Japan Railway to sell tickets to JR East trains and buses. Most Chinese travelers now buy them at train stations after arriving in Japan. But with more people visiting the country on their own instead of through organized group tours, Ctrip wants to tap demand with a more convenient booking solution.

Ctrip operates internet plane- and hotel-booking platforms and accounts for about 60% of China's online reservations market. Monthly users of its app exceed 200 million.

Japan trailed only Thailand in popularity as a destination for Chinese during the Lunar New Year, China's peak travel season. Ctrip wants to leverage its tie-up with JR East to expand in this key market.

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