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Declining yen holds promise for Japan inbound tourism
Hannah Koh, Japan-ASEAN Travel Mart 2013, Tokyo, May 20, 2013

JAPAN'S weakening currency may be the saviour of its once-faltering inbound tourism, as trade players at the inaugural Japan-ASEAN Travel Mart last week cited the yen as a major factor for the sector's strong recovery.


Susan Ong, manager, Japan National Tourism Organization Singapore Office, which also oversees the NTO’s activities in Malaysia, Indonesia and India, shared: “According to agent feedback, two years on (after the March 11 Tohoku earthquake), there is a lot of pent up demand from people who have been planning to go to Japan, and who are now doing so due to the weakening yen.”


She also mentioned that a representative from a major travel agency in Singapore had reported a 40 per cent increase in travel demand for Japan thanks to the currency’s exchange rate.


Utumporn Suonchai, general manager of Bangkok-based Am Tourist Club, said: “There are a lot of Thai people visiting Japan now because of (the favourable exchange rate) and the number of (destination) promotions Japan has done. People are not afraid of radiation anymore. The increase has been about 100 per cent compared to (the same period in) 2012.”


She said it was hard to estimate how Thai outbound to Japan would fare in 2013, but hoped for a 30 per cent increase by the end of the year.


Japan’s inbound arrivals continue to display strong recovery, with total inbound arrivals spiking 34.6 per cent last year against 2011 to reach 8.4 million.


The country posted 2.3 million arrivals for the first quarter of 2013, or an 18 per cent increase over the same period in 2012.

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