As Japan reopens fully, Trip.com reports surges in bookings

THE big news of the week is the full reopening of Japan effective October 11, after two-and-a-half years of restrictions. The pent-up demand for both inbound and outbound is being experienced by travel brands across the world.

Trip.com, which started looking at booking data for trips to Japan from countries in Europe and Asia, and Japan search data for the top 10 destinations across the APAC region and the USA from May onwards, saw huge spikes in searches and bookings from APAC and European countries in September, in anticipation of the full reopening.

Bookings from South Korea increased by a massive 194%, followed by a 183% increase in bookings from the UK, 169% in bookings from Spain and 103% in bookings from Germany.

Japan has long been popular among British travelers, with 330,000 visitors from the UK traveling to Japan before the pandemic.

Said Trip.com, “We have seen consistently high search figures across Europe, APAC and the US since May this year, with marked spikes across key destinations in September 2022.

“Singapore saw a 520% ​​month-on-month increase in searches in September, followed by a 463% increase in searches from Thailand, a 365% increase in searches from Australia and a 359% increase in searches from South Korea. Even the country with the lowest spike, the Philippines, saw a 91% increase in searches, which remains incredibly encouraging.

“With news that Japan is currently the most Googled travel destination for Australians, it’s encouraging to see Trip.com’s search data reflect this broader trend.”

The weakening of the yen compared to the strength of other key currencies could also boost demand for Japan.

However, there is still concern that the lack of travelers from mainland China and Hong Kong – who previously made up 37% of the overall visitors to Japan – will make travel recovery in Japan more muted.

To mark the full reopening of Japan, Trip.com held a Mega Sale in September featuring deals on luxury hotels across the country, from the Kobe Portopia Hotel to the ANA InterContinental Ishigaki Resort. As a result, these hotels saw considerable increases in visitor numbers to their websites, with the Sheraton Miyako Hotel Tokyo seeing an 8.270% increase in website views during the two weeks of the Mega Sale.

Trip.com also saw the highest app install figures of the year during the Mega Sale, with 4,610 downloads on September 13 and a total of 15,910 downloads over the four most popular days, versus 10,682 downloads over the same period the previous month, a huge increase of 149%.

The Mega Sale period also attracted an increase in website traffic from electronic direct mail (283% across 15 days compared to the traffic figures from the Golden Week campaign, which lasted five days), social media (300%) and SEO (123%) among other key traffic sources, and a direct traffic increase of 35%.

Said Trip.com Japan’s general manager Hironori Katsuse, “The two-fold effects of easing entry restrictions and a weaker yen have led to a rapid expansion of inbound tourism to Japan. This is truly a situation of revenge travel. With a scheduled increase of international flights from October, Trip.com Japan anticipates a more robust recovery from Q4 to Q1 2023.”

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