Package tours abroad surge in popularity due strong yen, drop in surcharges

Package tours overseas have rapidly regained their popularity in Japan, thanks to reductions in fuel surcharges and the stronger yen.

According to the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA), the number of bookings for overseas package tours at seven major travel agencies for April, May and June this year increased by 23.5 percent, 23.2 percent and 17.6 percent, respectively, compared to the year earlier.

Reservations for trips to South Korea, which had already been popular among Japanese travelers due to the weaker won, increased by 3.3 times for June.

China, whose popularity had been on a downward trend after the poison-gyoza scandal, has returned to favor with increases of 35.5 percent in April, 49.1 percent in May and 40.2 percent in June.

As for the first three months of this year, although January saw a decline of 10 percent, the number of bookings rose by 8.8 percent in February. March also saw an increase by 4.1 percent. In particular, bookings for package tours to South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan climbed, according to the JATA.

(Mainichi Japan) April 18, 2009

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