Kansai draws a younger crowd

AN INCREASING number of young adults from Singapore are heading to the Kansai region for free-and-easy holidays, according to Japan National Tourism Organisation executive director Singapore office, Motonari Adachi.

Speaking to TTG Asia e-Daily on the sidelines of the Kansai Diamond Route Promotion roadshow in Singapore yesterday, Adachi said: “FIT arrivals from Singapore have been increasing steadily over the past few years.”

Adachi said FIT travellers made up 70 per cent of overall Singapore arrivals to the Kansai region last year, up from 60 per cent two years ago. “We are certain that this segment will exceed 80 per cent by the end of this year,” he added.

Travel agents at the roadshow, which highlighted tourism products in various cities including Kobe, Kyoto, Osaka and Sakai, shared the positive expectations. Most attributed the rising interest to greater awareness of Kansai, as well as the appeal of the Universal Studios Japan theme park and shopping opportunities in Osaka.

According to Asia-Euro Holidays senior tour executive, head office, Peter Lee, air access is not an issue despite there being only two carriers connecting Singapore to Kansai.

“Singapore Airlines flies twice daily services to Osaka, and offers excellent promotional rates,” he said. “Jetstar Asia’s daily service on the Singapore-Taipei-Osaka route is also popular because travellers can do a shopping stopover in Taipei.”

Adachi added that the rapid rise in young FIT travellers to Kansai was most prominent from Singapore, compared to other Asian source markets.

He said: “Hong Kong already has a strong segment of FIT travellers, so growth is not so prominent. Thais require travel visas to Japan, so group tours are preferred. Malaysia is only starting to see some growth in the FIT segment, but we believe a growth spurt will occur once AirAsia commences direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Osaka in November.”

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