The Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) plans to boost rebound of the outbound market with a new promotion to coincide with the Japanese government’s downgrade of Covid-19 to the same disease level as influenza on May 8.
The project, which is sponsored by airlines, JATA member companies and foreign tourist authorities, aims to provide information and campaign details on a new website and normalise overseas trips via a social media campaign.
Launching the project, Atsushi Sakai, vice president of JATA, said the goal is “to spread awareness among Japanese people that it’s time to resume overseas travel”, adding that the promotion will initially run from April 2023 to March 2024.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Japanese consumers have shown reluctance to resume trips, even domestically. The government-run national travel subsidy programme is scheduled to run until summer, albeit excluding the consecutive national holidays known as Golden Week.
A mere 2.8 million Japanese travellers departed for overseas trips in 2022, up from 512,000 in 2021, but 86.2 per cent down from the record high of 20 million in 2019, according to consumer data provider Statista.
The outlook is bleak, too. Japan ranked top among 15 countries in travel reluctance according to a July 2022 survey by market research company Morning Consult, with 35 per cent of Japanese respondents answering that they would “never travel” again, either domestically or internationally. Next was South Korea, with 15 per cent of respondents.
Those most eager to travel again were respondents in Italy and Spain; only four per cent of them said they would “never travel” again.
Moreover, JTB Corporation, the largest travel agent in Japan, forecasts only 200,000 Japanese consumers will journey overseas during the upcoming Golden Week, 79 per cent fewer compared to the same period in 2019.
Hence, the Japan Tourism Agency is aiming for outbound travel to recover to the 2019 level by 2025.