Perhaps buoyed by last month’s 10-day Golden Week and a generally good vibe over the upcoming quadrennial Olympic Games in Tokyo later this year, Japanese travelers and the agents and operators who supply them with product are unusually optimistic about the near-term outlook for overseas travel to most international regions, according to the most recent quarterly survey of the Japanese travel trade by the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA).
It is possible that the positive outlook is skewed by the fact that the majority of those responding to the JATA survey are retailers who, by definition, are closer to the pulse of the retail marketplace, which is more sensitive to short- and near-term demand. About 65 percent of those surveyed by JATA are retail travel agencies, both large and small. Tour operators and tour wholesales represent a small portion (5 percent) of the total, and overseas travel specialist agencies comprise just 7 percent of the number surveyed.
The retailer/wholesaler breakdown notwithstanding, the tone of the JATA report—as well as the numbers involved—are encouraging to U.S. travel suppliers and receptive tour operators who sell to the Japanese market:
—With the exception of Asia, demand for tours to Hawaii, America & Canada and other destinations has increased. All destinations except for South Korea are expected to enjoy stronger demand during the April –June quarter. Thanks to the long holidays and other factors, demand for Hawaii, Europe and other long-haul destinations continues to be robust.
—Compared to the previous quarter, demand for America & Canada and Micronesia is respectively 15 and 11 points stronger. Travel to China and South Korea has declined by 14 and 8 points respectively. Asia is at level zero, keeping its highest rank among the overseas destinations
—During the April–June quarter, all destinations with the exception of South Korea are expected to see strong demand. Hawaii in particular will score 11 points, Oceania and Europe 9 points each, and America & Canada will grow by 8 points. Asia, Hawaii and Europe are expected to step into positive territory
—Driven by individual travelers, overseas travel has exceeded the forecast made during the previous quarter. Despite the slight decline, the Golden Week holidays are expected to see an increase in overseas travel. With the exception of South Korea, all destinations –and the long-haul ones in particular –will see an increase in demand.
(In order to better understand the following table, take a look at the Note on Methodology below*)
* A Note on Methodology: The Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) asks all member companies to register as survey monitors. JATA conducts the quarterly Survey of Travel Market Trends involving 607 registered companies and publishes the results. The Survey of Travel Market Trends is designed to grasp trends in the travel market based on responses to questions on current conditions and those anticipated over the next three months. The survey asks participating companies to rate their sales results for each destination and customer segment by choosing from three categories: “good,” “average,” and “poor.” For items outside their business scope, respondents select “do not handle.” Each share of “good,” “average,” and “poor” is then divided respectively by the denominator, which is equal to the total number of responses minus the “do not handle” (including “no reply”) responses. Finally, each share is processed into the Diffusion Index (DI) by subtracting the percentage of “poor” from the percentage of “good.” The highest possible index figure is +100, and the lowest is -100.
The latest survey was an Internet survey conducted February 4,2019 to February 22, 2019. It was sent to 607 companies and had 267 responses (43.9%).