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Weekly Update: Japan's digital nomad visa, and Douyin & Xiaohongshu finally crack payments

Japan's selective visa-free policy for digital nomads outlined

As long as Chinese applicants meet certain conditions, they can not only enter Japan visa-free and stay for up to half a year, but also be accompanied by family members. The target of this visa exemption is "digital nomads" from all over the world. Digital nomads refer to workers who do not need a fixed office or home address, and who use digital technology and the Internet to live and work in a free and flexible manner around the world. Currently, there are more than 35 million digital nomads worldwide, and it is estimated that this number will exceed 1 billion by 2035.

The Japanese government also openly stated that the reason for planning to introduce this new policy is because of the consumption power of this huge group. The Japanese government initially plans to set the application conditions for this new residence qualification as:

  1. Applicants must reside in countries and regions that have concluded tax treaties with Japan (such as China)

  2. Annual income exceeds 10 million Japanese yen (about 500,000 RMB)

  3. They hold private medical insurance

The ¥3.1 Billion Compensation Lawsuit Pushing Lvmama To Collapse

Once valued at $420 million, Chinese B2C online travel platform Lvmama Travel Network may be on the verge of collapse. Recently, Chinese financial reporters picked up that Lvmama's official website, app and WeChat mini-program were no longer functioning normally, and the WeChat public account had not been updated for half a year. Moreover, their parent company, Shanghai Feilv Bay Cultural Communication, has recently been included in a government blacklist for business malpractice. Reports have also been circulating that "most Lvmama employees have been retrenched" and that "it is impossible to book products, with only a few employees left."

According to business data from Chinese analytics platform Tianyancha, Lvmama's parent company is involved in 454 judicial cases, of which 340 are as defendants, and the amount involved reaches 604 million yuan ($84.8 million). Reporters found that currently, Lvmama's offline stores belong to various local subsidiaries and are still operating independently. However, founder Hong Qinghua is embroiled in a 31.57 billion yuan ($4.4 billion) compensation lawsuit, meaning that Lvmama's days are likely numbered.

2024 outbound tourism market size expected to reach 130 million person-times

On February 1st, Yang Jinsong, director of the International Institute of the China Tourism Academy, released the "China Outbound Tourism Development Report 2023-24", which predicted that the outbound tourism market size in China will reach 130 million person-times in 2024, recovering to about 80% of the 2019 level. In 2019, the outbound tourism market size in China was 155 million person-times.

Douyin and Xiaohongshu are starting to crack payments

From Zibo barbecue to Guizhou village travel, to Tianjin and Harbin's travel crazes in China, one incredible trend has emerged from 2023's travel data: billions in tourism payments through Douyin, followed closely by Xiaohongshu and Kuaishou. Platform data shows that in 2023, Douyin and Kuaishou's transactions and live broadcast sales may be as high as 200 billion yuan ($28 billion), of which wine and travel transactions make up a fair share. Douyin transactions with wine and travel are likely to reach around 60 billion yuan, of which 50 billion yuan comes from the travel field, which accounts for 4.8% of the total travel market share.

Thai Tourism Authority launches Chinese live streaming sales to attract tourists

In the wake of China-Thailand mutual visa exemptions, the Tourism Authority of Thailand looks to launch its first-ever live streaming sales event for Chinese tourists in 2024 in partnership with Ctrip. On January 31st, Suwannatat Wongsupakorn, Minister of Tourism and Sports of Thailand, and Tapeni Kapiwan, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, even made personal appearances in a Ctrip live streaming room. The products in the live streaming room include popular tourist routes such as Bangkok + Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Similan Islands for 6 to 8 days, as well as popular flights and hotels, with prices as low as 50% off on regular days. The luxurious Geli Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, which starts at 3,000 yuan per night on regular days, can be booked for less than 1,400 yuan after using coupons in the live streaming room. Thailand's KingPower duty-free shop will also give away 1,000 shopping/dining vouchers in the live streaming room, and will hold special activities such as traditional Chinese Hanfu dress-up experiences and face painting during the Spring Festival to welcome Chinese tourists.

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