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Asian tourism-focused businesses ready for China rebound as border reopens

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Hikeshi Spirit, a clothing store in Tokyo’s Asakusa district that was hugely popular with Chinese tourists before the pandemic, is also hoping this key customer segment will join other nationalities in returning soon, sales manager Masaki Nagayama said.

“About 90 per cent of our staff can speak English, so with the timing for Chinese customers, we would like to think about hiring staff who can speak Chinese,” he said.

In Thailand, the deputy prime minister personally welcomed Chinese tourists at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Monday, a day after China’s border reopening, and the country now hopes Chinese visitors can double this year to 10 million people, nearing the pre-pandemic level of 11 million in 2019.

“Tour bus operators who have had their vehicles idly parked for over three years are now gearing up for (bus) inspections,” said Thai Tour Bus Association President Wasuchet Sophonsatien.

Kitsanan Bulalom, 53, a Bangkok tour bus driver for 14 years, said he and colleagues were eager to get back to work and earn more cash, adding that he worked six days a week before the pandemic but that was cut to only about one day a week when tourism slumped.

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