Japan Travel Industry Update and Looking Ahead

Connect Worldwide has a large presence in Japan representing many countries, cities and destinations throughout the world. The Tokyo office and team stay on top of the travel industry market and trends, to provide the best marketing and sales efforts for our clients. International travel has been affected across the globe, so we wanted to share an update about the pandemic, vaccinations, flights and the future of travel in Japan.

Japan’s inbound and outbound travel status has declined due to Covid-19. Still, because forecasts show that Japan will fully vaccinate its population by late Fall 2021, travel industry experts presume that inbound and outbound travel will pick back up by Fall 2021. Surveys have shown that eager travelers in Japan are beginning to plan for future travel. Two of their focal concerns and drivers are culinary experiences and safety and security information and procedures. Surveys show that these travelers are likely to visit familiar destinations first, are already viewing travel resources, and many have already made concrete plans and are researching flights.

Japan Covid-19 Update

Though Japan was able to control most of the Covid-19 outbreak during the majority of 2020, Japan experienced a more substantial widespread outbreak beginning in late December. As of May 25, the approximate Covid-19 case statistics were as followed; Total Covid Cases: 726, 535, Total Recovered: 645,157, Total Deaths: 12,456 people, and Total Active Cases: 68,922. Since the recent outbreak surge, travel restrictions have tightened once again, and major urban areas have been in and out of State of Emergency modified lock-downs. There is currently a Level 3 travel warning advising Japanese residents against travel to North and South America, Europe, South Asia, most of Southwest Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. There is a Level 2 Travel Warning advising residents to avoid all but essential travel to Australia, China, Hong Kong, Laos, New Zealand, Vietnam, and several African countries. Japan’s borders are closed to all non-resident foreign nationals. All Japanese and resident foreign nationals must quarantine for 14 days and undergo PCR testing after returning from traveling overseas.

Outbound Travel in Japan

Japan was once one of the leaders in outbound travel, but due to the impact of the pandemic, Japan’s Total Outbound Travelers Year-to-Date is down 96% YoY at 102,398, and Total Japanese Travelers to the U.S. is down 97% YoY at 19,058; this makes up 19% of total Japanese outbound travel. Most of Japan’s outbound travel is predominantly for essential business and visiting family and primarily occurs in China, South Korea, and Vietnam.
When can we presume Japan’s outbound travel will start to pick up? Industry experts imagine that the government will begin to reopen borders to both inbound and outbound leisure travel by late Fall 2021 once most of Japan’s population is vaccinated. While only 4% of Japan’s population has obtained at least one Covid-19 vaccination shot, this percentage will likely climb as the vaccination supply becomes more accessible. The prime minister has established a goal to administer 1 million vaccines per day and aspires to have all 36 million of the population over 65 vaccinated by late July. If Japan can arrive at its vaccination goals, the aim is that it will take roughly seven months to vaccinate the entire population of Japan.

Future Outbound Travel Research

Attributable to the research by JTB Tourism Research and Consulting Co., which surveyed 2,187 Japanese residents who have been avid travelers abroad, we notice that people are beginning to plan for future travel. 60% of the participants are not interested in traveling until the pandemic declines globally, 26% are interested in traveling once their desired destinations open back up, and 14% said they are ready to travel today. The research shows that 15-19% of the surveyed are already seeking out travel blogs and videos online, watching travel programs, visiting DMO websites and social media, viewing travel websites, and hearing tips from friends. 15% of the surveyed even said they are already making concrete travel plans and searching flight information. This research also indicates that participant’s preferred travel locations will be three that they are familiar with: Hawaii(20.1%), Taiwan(11.8%), and U.S. mainland(7.5%), with Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea accounting for 7% of the answers each. The survey also determined that the key two essential drivers that future travelers are concerned with are traveling safely and having excellent culinary experiences. Some travelers also insist on their travel providers offering insurance covering Covid-19 treatment and helpful security procedures and assistance while traveling. 36% of participants also listed that they would like to communicate in Japanese in the case of a travel emergency.

Airlines Start to Prepare for Outbound Travel

Various airlines will bring back flights in May, which indicates service from Japan to U.S. gateways is gradually coming back. There is currently non-stop service to the following from Tokyo (Haneda and Narita airports) to Atlanta (daily; Delta), Boston (4 times per week; JAL), Chicago (3-4 times per week or daily; ANA, JAL, United), Dallas (3 times per week or daily; American, JAL), Detroit (3-4 times per week; Delta), Honolulu (2-3 times per week; ANA, Hawaiian, JAL, Korean), Houston (3 times per week; ANA), Los Angeles (3-4 times per week or daily; American, ANA, JAL, Singapore, United), New York (3 times per week or daily; ANA, JAL), Newark (3-4 times per week; United), San Diego (3 times per week; JAL), San Francisco (3-4 times per week or daily; multiple carriers), Seattle (3-4 times per week, Delta, JAL; ANA resuming in July), Washington, DC (3 times per week; ANA). In July, Denver (U.A.) and Minneapolis (DL) will resume services. ANA, Delta, JAL, and United will bring back daily service to Honolulu, and Hawaiian will restart daily service in August. Portland, OR (DL) and San Jose, CA (ANA) plan to resume services in November, and United is scheduled to resume daily Washington, DC service in November.

Japan is working hard to have their population vaccinated so travel can get back to pre-pandemic levels. Japan, along with many other countries around the world, are planning their future travel and airlines are meeting with governments in order to prepare for the comeback. Connect Worldwide is ready too. Reach out to us with any international destination marketing and sales needs.

JNTO Japan Nat’l Tourism Organization
Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare
JTB Tourism Research & Consulting Co.

Japan Travel Industry Update