Japanese tour sales expected to increase

Visitors wearing protective face masks take selfies on Nakamise Street leading to Senso-ji Temple in the Asakusa district, a popular tourist spot in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo: Reuters)

Package travel sales to Japan are expected to rise in the fourth quarter once mandatory pre-arrival RT-PCR testing is scrapped on September 7, while package travel sales to South Korea continued to decline .

During a briefing with travel agencies on Thursday, the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) insisted visitors will be required to present a vaccine certificate with three approved shots instead of a negative test result .

Chotechuang Soorangura, vice president of the Association of Thai Travel Agents, said more and more tourists are interested in buying Japan tour packages. Currently, the Japanese government only allows tourists to enter the country through tour groups.

Canceling the Covid-19 testing requirement will help travelers save at least 3,000-3,500 baht per trip, while the average tour price has gradually come down as ground operators are now more accustomed to testing protocols. management of tour groups and can better manage operational costs.

The price of a package currently starts at around 25,000 baht for a program covering five days and three nights, compared to more than 30,000 baht at the start of the reopening of tourism in June.

In July, Japan welcomed 16,000 Thai visitors. Of the total, 7,300 visited during the months of June and July.

Even though the number remains a far cry from the 1.3 million recorded in 2019, it has improved considerably from 2021 when only 2,758 Thais visited due to the enforcement of strict border controls on tourism. Recreation.

However, outbound tour operators are concerned about the visa application that the Japanese government always requires foreign travelers to apply for before arriving in the country.

He said as more and more tourists were buying Japan tour packages, tour operators had to allow three weeks for the visa process.

The e-visa, which Japan launched in the United States and Canada on August 18, may soon be available for Thailand and will partially ease congestion, however, as tour operators have learned from JNTO, there is no no concrete plan to offer visa waiver to Thai citizens. as we saw before the pandemic.

Chotechuang said South Korea’s tour package market has seen a different development as more tourists avoid buying packages from tour operators due to problems with a group being turned away. entry into the country and did not receive a refund.

Tourists who still have purchasing power have instead opted for nearby destinations that do not require a visa, leading Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Laos.

The outbound market in the last quarter is expected to recover, mainly driven by Japan, as the government may further ease restrictions and increase the number of daily arrivals to 50,000 from the current 20,000.

Meanwhile, the outbound market in the fourth quarter could also be bolstered by the reopening of the Greater Bay Area comprising Hong Kong, Macao and Guangdong, as local tourism organizations have told tourist agents in Thailand that they may restart the inbound tourism during this period.