International flights from Japan during the country’s traditional Bon holidays from August 10 to 20, have rebounded to 67 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, while domestic flights have recovered to about 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, with marked increases over the same period in 2022.
The uptick in bookings reflects Japanese people’s increased willingness and openness to travel since the government downgraded Covid-19 to the same disease classification as influenza in May, according to All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL).
About 560,000 outbound flight reservations had been made on the two national carriers as of early August, double that of the same period in 2022, while domestic flight reservations were up 20 per cent year-on-year, at 3.7 million.
By August 31, the number of overseas travellers is expected to reach 1.2 million, a year-on-year increase of 214 per cent, but only 40 per cent of what it was in 2019, according to a forecast by JTB, Japan’s largest travel agent, based on a survey of 2,060 people.
JTB’s report noted several issues hampering Japan’s outbound recovery: “Airline seat supply has yet to fully recover to 2019 levels. The weak yen, price hikes and staffing shortages in the service industry remain challenging.”
The most popular overseas destinations for Japanese travellers this summer are South Korea (19 per cent), Taiwan (16 per cent) and Hawaii (13 per cent). JTB products to Guam, Singapore and other parts of Asia have also been selling well. Most trips last four-days/three-nights (27 per cent), followed by three-days/two-nights (20 per cent) and two-days/one-night (12 per cent).
When asked to name post-summer overseas destinations that would be desirable, popular responses included Hawaii (13 per cent), Europe (11 per cent), Australia/New Zealand (10 per cent), Taiwan (nine per cent) and South Korea (eight per cent).