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Business

SoftBank to guide Chinese travelers off the beaten path

Chinese tourists shopping in Japan.

TOKYO -- SoftBank Group will launch a new tourism business in November that offers Chinese visitors coming to Japan alternatives to the familiar sights.

     A new travel company being established by the telecom giant will put together tours that mainly take travelers to Japan's rural areas. The packages will be listed on Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba's virtual mall. The company will also send by smartphone coupons redeemable at shops along the tours, a boon for businesses throughout Japan hoping to capture demand from Chinese buyers. SoftBank will team up with travel agency JTB in the operation.

     Despite the rise in Chinese tourists, itineraries take nearly 70% of them to Tokyo and over 40% to Osaka. SoftBank seeks to differentiate itself on China's largest online retail site with its unique lineup, aiming for around 70,000 purchasers in fiscal 2020.

     SoftBank will fully own the new subsidiary, which is already registered as a travel agency, and set up its home office in Tokyo. The unit will open its online store on Alibaba's travel website Nov. 11 and begin taking reservations. The store will draw customers by posting videos showcasing attractions throughout Japan, in addition to advertising Japanese products.

     The company will put together packages reflecting comments on Alibaba's website about JTB's rural tours. SoftBank will contract out bus and hotel arrangements to JTB and utilize the latter's tourism expertise. The new unit will also sell concert tickets and rent out Wi-Fi services.

(Nikkei)

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