JAPAN. 2006 will end on a positive note for international travel demand, according to the latest Diffusion Index (DI) released by the Japan Association of Travel Agents.

The Index is a key quarterly barometer of the health of the outbound travel sector and is eagerly awaited by all related businesses in Japan.

The DI reflects business sentiment within the travel industry with responses ranging from “˜very good’ to “˜good’ to “˜average’ to “˜fairly poor’ to “˜poor’ to questions on conditions for the given period broken down by destination and market sector. “˜Very good’ has an index of 100 while at the other end of the spectrum “˜poor’ is -100. “˜Average’ is 0.

Reporting the latest DI this week, respected travel commentators Travel Journal International (TJI) said: “The higher-than-average overall Diffusion Index will be fuelled by senior travellers (60 years old and older) which have been the strongest market sector over the past 24 months. In the latest survey, seniors will post a DI of 4, an improvement over the DI of 1 in the previous quarter.”

But Hawaii remains very soft. Business is being critically affected to US destinations by the weakness of the Japanese Yen

JATA said that the overall DI will be 5 for the period from October to December, down from the DI of 15 posted in the previous peak holiday period between July and September – but an encouraging result for this time of year.

The latest results show that China travel will continue to rebound for the second straight quarter, this time to a DI of 10, a point down from the 11 posted in the previous quarter. Travel to other Asian countries, while still strong, will post a lower DI of 3 compared to the DI of 9 in the July-September period.

Europe, coming off a strong third quarter thanks to the World Cup and the popularity of Da Vinci Code tours, will see a 0 DI, slightly down from the 3 DI a quarter earlier.

But Hawaii remains very soft, posting a -12 DI (-13 last quarter) while the US Mainland and Canada will drop seven points to a -32 DI. Business is being critically affected to US destinations by the weakness of the Japanese Yen against the US Dollar – the latter was worth Â¥118.07 overnight.

The middle-aged sector (45-59 years of age) shows a -3 DI, slightly down from the -1 DI in each of the April-June and July-September quarters. The young women’s sector will continue to remain weak with a -19 DI, down from the -17 the previous period, reflecting their interest in activities other than overseas travel.

Family travel will also soften during the final quarter. The DI will drop from a -2 in the third quarter to -24 since families tend to travel during the summer and early spring season to accommodate their children’s school schedules.

Business travel looks strong though with a DI of 4.


Japanese tourism to China recovers – 27/09/06

“˜The Italian boom is here’ – Japanese travel group reports surge in trips to Italy – 20/09/06

Strong FIT market drives JTB Corp’s international travel business – 18/09/06

Taiwan routes drive fifth straight month of passenger traffic growth at Tokyo Narita – 13/09/06