Japan New Year domestic trips forecast at 72% of pre-pandemic levels

Tokyo, 18 December, /AJMEDIA/

The number of holidaymakers in Japan making domestic trips during the New Year vacation period is expected to rise by 3 million from a year earlier but remain at 71.8 percent of pre-pandemic levels, or 21 million people, according to travel agency projections released this month.

Major Japanese travel agency JTB Corp. partially attributed the expected increase from the 2021/2022 holiday period to people having a lower psychological barrier to travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

The less than full-fledged recovery in travel was likely the result of rising prices of goods and services as well as efforts to limit outdoor activities during the ongoing “eighth wave” of virus infections, according to the company.

In the 2019/2020 New Year period, the last before the pandemic began in spring 2020, an estimated 29.27 million people made domestic trips.

JTB projected the number of people who would make at least one overnight stay at travel destinations between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3, 2023, based on an online questionnaire conducted in November and available reservation data.

Average travel spending is expected to rise 12.1 percent from the previous year to 37,000 yen ($275) per person, with an increase in family trips and travel involving two- to four-night stays.

Solo trips, which saw greater incidence during the pandemic, are projected to decrease.

The number of holidaymakers from Japan making overseas trips during the New Year vacation period is also expected to soar more than sevenfold from the previous year to 150,000 people, but that would still be less than 20 percent of the level seen during the 2019/2020 period.

Likely affecting the slow recovery are the rapid weakening of the Japanese yen against the U.S. dollar this year and soaring surcharges on international flights on the back of higher oil prices. Both make overseas travel more expensive for people in Japan.

According to travel agency HIS Co., its November data showed a roughly 19-fold increase in the number of people making overseas travel bookings for Dec. 24 to Jan. 3, 2023, compared with the previous fiscal year. The total, however, still only amounted to about 20 percent of that in fiscal 2019.

The most popular destination during the current cycle is Seoul, followed by Honolulu and Bangkok, the company said.

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