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Japan's plan to attract more Chinese tourists

(Nara, Japan. )

Japan is considering relaxing restrictions on visas for tourists from China in hopes of improving the country's tourism spend.

To facilitate inbound tourism, the government could lower the prescribed minimum annual income a Chinese citizen needs to obtain a multiple-entry visa to 3 million yen ($26,983.27) from around 4 million yen now.

Since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in late 2012, his government has gradually eased visa requirements for Asian countries, pushing the number of inbound visitors to a record high and sparking an increase in hotel construction.

According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, the number of foreign visitors to Japan rose 21.8 percent to a record 24 million last year, with China in first place at 26.5 percent of all arrivals.

The growth in tourism from China has already had an impact on Japan's hospitality industry: Late last year, Japan’s parliament passed a bill legalizing casinos, paving the way for billions of dollars of potential investment. International gaming companies—including Wynn Resorts Ltd, MGM Resorts International and Las Vegas Sands Corp.—have expressed interest in Japan. 

Opening two integrated resorts in major population centers could bring in $10 billion in revenue, with potential for $30 billion if they spread across the country, according to a report by CLSA.