Coming out in just about any day now will be the next quarterly survey of the nation’s tour operators and travel agents by the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA)—on the outlook for booking activity for outbound travel in the coming quarter (July-September). The Inbound Report will go out on a limb and predict that the results will show that the Japanese travel trade will be optimistic about prospective activity for the third quarter of this year, following up on the last quarterly report in which the outlook for the current quarter was up by about a third over the same period in 2015.
One of the reasons for this outlook is that the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has reported a 7 percent increase in that the estimated number of Japanese overseas travelers in April 2016 (vs. the same month in 2015). In fact, the estimated 1.2 million outbound travelers for April marked the fourth consecutive month in which outbound travel volume has increased, year-over-year. Unfortunately, JNTO had no hard figures for some specific country markets, while the source page on its website has spotty information on other markets, and none for the continental U.S. However, traffic in the months of February and March for Hawaii augur well for mainland figures. We’ve assembled some numbers for key outbound destinations for Japanese travelers below.
Japanese Departures to
Selected International Destinations
February & March 2016: Change vs. 2015
|Country/Market||February 2016 Departures||Change vs. February 2015||March 2016 Departures||Change vs. March 2015|
|Source: Japan National Tourism Organization|
It’s been several years since anything suggesting recovery has crept into the projections and predictions for Japanese visitor traffic to the USA. The most recent forecast from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) illustrates the point.
Forecast for Arrivals from Japan
|Year||Arrivals (000s)||Change vs. Previous Year|
|Note: 2014 figures are actual; those for 2015, 2016 figures are forecast.|
|Source: Spring 2015 forecast of U.S. Department of Commerces National Travel and Tourism Office|
Confidence in the nation’s economic standing seems to have increased. In its Monthly Economic Report last month, the Japanese government said that “the Japanese economy is on a moderate recovery, while weakness can be seen recently.” Concerning short-term prospects, the government said “the economy is expected toward recovery, supported by the effects of the policies, while employment and income situation is improving. However, there are downside risks of the Japanese economy including slowing down of emerging Asian economies including the Chinese economy and countries with natural resources amid the weakness of overseas economies. In addition, attention should be given to the increased uncertainty in overseas economies …”
Also, the Japanese Yen has stabilized in its relationship vs. U.S. dollar. Click on the following link to see a table which traces the dollar-yen exchange rate for the past two years: http://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=USD&to=JPY&view=2Y