Japan’s reopening to international travellers this month and the current favourable yen exchange rate have prompted travel agencies in Singapore to roll out attractive packages to satiate pent-up demand for the Land of the Rising Sun.
Since Japan announced in May that it will reopen from June 10 to tourists from 36 countries, including Singapore, tour companies have sprung into action.
Even with the higher number of procedures required currently for an organised tour to Japan, travel agencies expect the interest to remain strong into 2023.
For Chan Brothers Travel, one of Singapore’s largest travel agencies and tour operators, the strategy is multi-pronged. According to its spokesperson, Jeremiah Wong, the agency has launched longer tours that pack in enriched content to showcase the country’s offerings in greater detail.
The agency is also the first to introduce seasonal itineraries such as autumn, winter, and ski holidays to Hokkaido, as well as Sakura tours for April 2023.
On top of that, Chan Brothers Travel offers exclusive small group tours to Japan, capped at nine people – perfect for travellers who want more privacy with family and/or friends.
Wong said the agency is encouraging travellers to book in advance and beat potential airfare hikes by offering a time-limited offer of 50 per cent off the second traveller. Early bookers can also enjoy free cancellations and flexible refund policies.
A quick scan of the Internet reveals that a round-trip economy class flight on Singapore Airlines for the week before Christmas will set one back over S$3,000 (US$2,158.80). A flight with the same carrier for the same period in 2019, albeit booked in March the same year, cost under S$1,000.
Rising fares aside, travel agencies like H.I.S. International Travel are determined to appeal to tourists with its local expertise and extensive programmes.
Yusaku Koike, Singapore branch manager, H.I.S. International Travel, said: “The response has been overwhelming as people are thrilled to travel to Japan again. We have a few different itineraries to target different groups of travellers. For instance, our autumn itinerary is for those who want to catch the autumn maple leaf season, and our itinerary to Osaka caters to people who enjoy shopping.”
Koike told TTG Asia that H.I.S. has offices across Japan, and its connection with the Japan government and local prefectures means “we are able to provide not only a comprehensive itinerary but also exclusive services and information that travellers need, such as visa applications and immediate assistance from our Japan branches”.
Mike Harlow, general manager of luxury travel specialist Scott Dunn Asia, said: “It’s pretty clear that Japan will continue to be a popular destination – we are currently working to further expand our product and property offerings to bring more exclusive experiences that would appeal to our guests when the destination opens up for private tours and visits.”