Sunday 18 March 2012 10:06 pm

Japanese help to boost UK tourist trade

JAPAN’S economic recovery has fuelled a resurgence in Japanese travellers to the UK, helping to boost overall tourist spend by 46 per cent last month compared with the same period last year. Japanese shoppers spent an average of £449 per store when shopping in the UK, with overall spend up by 35 per cent in the year to date, according to Global Blue, the tax-free shopping services company that compiled the statistics. The country entered the top 10 nationalities for UK tourist spend in January for the first time since March 2011, joining big ticket spenders like China, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, who are driving footfall across popular UK destinations including London’s West End, and out-of-town retail outlets like Bicester Village. “It is testament to Japan’s economic recovery that the total value of sales matches that of Brazil, considered one of the most important emerging markets,” Richard Brown, vice president of Global Blue UK said. The company anticipates travel from Japan to surge this year and a return to a six-figure visitor number last seen in 2010, led by single women and baby boomers both exercising high disposable incomes. According to luxury British brands, including stationary firm Smythson, these tourists are increasingly drawn to tailor-made and original purchases that have a talking point over luxury brands easily available at home. A spokesperson for Smythson said: “Japan is fast becoming an increasingly important part of our international customer base. “Smythson has huge appeal with Japanese customers who have a discerning eye for heritage and craftsmanship and bespoke goods.” Smythson also pointed to an increased demand for technology accessories, closely followed by travel and business accessories. Global Blue reported last month that Chinese travellers remained the biggest drivers of growth to the UK, with south east Asian tourists followed closely behind, like by Hong Kong and Singapore.