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Japan and South Korea try to keep up with China's changing travel tastes

Chinese tourists feel the magic of the "Harry Potter" world at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. (Photo by Tetsuo Oshiro)

TOKYO   Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in a good mood on the evening of Jan. 19. Sipping red wine at his official residence, he told his dinner guests the news of the day: Tourist arrivals to Japan had surged 47% in 2015 to a record 19.7 million. Driving the growth was a 107% jump in Chinese arrivals.

     "We've got to expand hotel capacity to bring in more visitors," Abe said. "There's such a shortage of rooms that even APA hotels are expensive," he said, referring to a nationwide chain of no-frills business hotels.

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