FIT market provides hope for Japan rebound

BUYERS from South-east Asia said they were banking on the fast growth in the FIT market to make up for a dismal year of Japan sales, as group business had suffered in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami.

“Our strategy is FITs, as it’s now hard to put together groups,” said Roy Gay, sales and marketing manager, ANA Singapore, which sells tour packages to Japan under First Choice Holiday.

He added that First Choice had launched fly-drive holidays for Kyushu this year, and would add more destinations as demand for such packages among the FIT market continued to rise.

Giamso International Tours senior marketing executive Alfred Kua said while group traffic had been affected, FIT traffic, on the other hand, had increased by 50 per cent from May to October due to the airfare deals and hotel promotions dangled.

“Japan had always been considered an expensive destination for Singaporeans. It suddenly became affordable when airlines started to come up with good airfares,” he said.

Land operator A.I.S.C Sales & Marketing Japan, director, Jennifer Tan, based in Malaysia, added that the launch of low-cost flights by AirAsia X to Japan in the past year had also helped to stimulate the FIT market there. Having launched its first Japanese route to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport in December 2010, AirAsia X will start flying to Osaka’s Kansai International Airport from next Wednesday with four weekly services.

“The FIT market is growing very fast. A lot of budget travellers wish to see Japan, and they now have the chance,” she said.

Tan added that the company had recently introduced a service called Cherry Tomato, an airport transfer service that sends FIT travellers straight to their hotels in Tokyo to cater to those who don’t want to have to research on the best way to get around.

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