JAPAN. Japanese overseas travel numbers will rise marginally in 2008, domestic travel is set to rise for the first time in five years, and inbound visitor numbers will surge by +8.4%. Those are the conclusions of JTB Corp, the leading Japanese tour operator, in its forecast of travel trends for 2008.

For overseas travel, it said, “the market appears to be maturing”. Demand for business travel has expanded in the Greater Tokyo area and in Central Japan surrounding Nagoya, but leisure demand has drifted lower, with fewer departures among those of the younger generation and people from other regions. In 2007 this trend appears to have been accelerated by higher fuel surcharges, blunting demand among those with little experience of overseas travel.

Some airlines made steep increases in their fuel surcharges from January 2008, and demand is expected to continue declining in the first half of the year. However, numbers are expected to rise in the autumn following the Beijing Olympic Games.

The number of overseas travellers is expected to be virtually the same as in 2008 at 17.35 million (100.1% of last year’s total). Average expenditure per person per journey, reflecting higher fuel surcharges and the downward trend in exchange rates for the Yen, will be higher, at Â¥307,000 or US$2,791 (100.5%). The result will be to take total expenditure on overseas travel to Â¥5,330 billion or US$48.5 billion (100.6%).

Domestic travel has been affected by the trends towards a slowly declining population which began in the late 1990s – and towards lower consumption figures, said JTB. The number of domestic travellers is expected to rise slightly to 316.1 million (100.5%). Higher petrol prices and stronger interest in more remote destinations should result in an increase in average expenditure on travel for the first time in four full years to Â¥34,700 or US$315 (100.2%) and is expected to take total expenditure to Â¥10,970 billion or US$99.7 billion (100.7%).

The number of overseas visitors to Japan is expected to rise from 8.3 million in 2007 to over nine million in 2008.

The survey covers all Japanese who spend at least one night away from home (including business trips and visits to the family home) and overseas visitors to Japan, based on economic predictions, travel-related market research into consumer purchasing, and estimates of other travel-related trends. It is the 28th such survey since 1981.


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