The surge in Chinese visitors to Japan is sparking a boom in demand for tour buses to take them shopping and sightseeing.

Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp. said it has received more orders for large-sized sightseeing buses during the first half of this year than the total for a typical year. Hino Motors Ltd.’s sales of large-sized tourist buses rose 63 percent in the three months ended June from a year earlier.

There’s currently a shortage of buses to cater to demand generated by an increased number of foreigners visiting Japan, many of them Chinese, said Masashi Yanagisawa, a spokesman at Hino Motors.

Japan has enjoyed a surge in tourism under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose policies have helped weaken the yen by more than 30 percent against the dollar since he took office. The number of foreign visitors during the first six months climbed 46 percent to more than 9 million, led by Chinese arrivals, which doubled to more than 2 million, according to Japan National Tourism Organization.

Buses were a bright spot in an otherwise difficult first half for Japan’s auto industry. Toyota Motor Corp. fell behind Volkswagen AG in global deliveries in part due to an 11 percent drop in domestic passenger car sales. Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. suffered even steeper declines of 16 percent and 18 percent, respectively. Honda cut local production by 36 percent.

Hino expects the high level of demand it’s seen lately to continue leading up to when Tokyo plays host to the Olympics in 2020, Yanagisawa said. The games also are fueling more deliveries of Hino’s construction vehicles such as cement mixers and dump trucks, which account for substantially more of its total sales than buses, he said.

–With assistance from Hideki Asai in Tokyo.


This article was written by Craig Trudell and Masatsugu Horie from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Photo Credit: A tour bus in central Tokyo. tata_aka_T / Flickr