Ja­panese tax desks lure tourists to lo­cal­i­ties

The China Post - - BUSINESS -

The Jape­nese econ­omy min­istry is try­ing to help shop­ping streets in lo­cal cities open onestop “tax- free” coun­ters to stim­u­late their busi­ness by at­tract­ing shop­ping- minded for­eign tourists to their stores.

The one- stop counter sys­tem started in April to sim­plify taxfree pro­ce­dures to deal with a sharp in­crease of for­eign tourists to Ja­pan, but only two cities in the coun­try — Asahikawa, Hokkaido, and the pre­fec­tural cap­i­tal of Okayama — so far have opened them.

The Econ­omy, Trade and In­dus­try Min­istry is cur­rently mak­ing a man­ual based on their cases and oth­ers to ex­pand tax- free shop­ping streets in lo­cal cities.

Since it is dif­fi­cult for stores in lo­cal cities to do tax ex­emp­tion pro­ce­dures by them­selves, the open­ing of a one- stop taxfree counter where re­cep­tion­ists flu­ent in for­eign lan­guages han­dle the pro­ce­dures is said to in­crease the num­ber of tax- free stores.

Such a one- stop counter was opened at the Omote­cho and Ro­man­tic Shoten­gai shop­ping streets in Okayama for the first time in the na­tion in late May. On June 1, Asahikawa Hei­wadori Kai­mono- koen ( Asahikawa peace street shop­ping park) launched a tax- free counter, too. Both coun­ters are lo­cated in­side ma­jor depart­ment stores.

In Asahikawa, how­ever, only 10 per­cent of 110 es­tab­lish­ments in the shop­ping dis­trict showed the in­ten­tion to be­come tax- free shops.

How­ever, Hisatomo Yabe, who runs a sta­tionery shop in the Omote­cho shop­ping street, felt there was a good re­sponse af­ter dis­play­ing a “tax- free” sign.

“For­eign tourists vis­ited us al­most ev­ery day,” he said.

Shin­saibashi- suji Shop­ping Cen­ter in Osaka is also mak­ing prepa­ra­tions to open a one- stop tax- free counter.

Ac­cord­ing to the econ­omy min­istry, about 10 shop­ping dis­tricts across the na­tion are con­sid­er­ing open­ing tax- free coun­ters.

There were 18,779 tax- free shops in the na­tion as of April, al­most dou­ble the num­ber in Oc­to­ber 2014, ac­cord­ing to the Tourism Agency. How­ever, about 30 per­cent of them are lo­cated in Tokyo, and most are con­cen­trated in large cities. As a record 18 mil­lion for­eign tourists are ex­pected to visit the na­tion in 2015, it is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly im­por­tant to en­cour­age them to spend their money in lo­cal cities.

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