Airlines add flights and travel agency bookings increase as Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan ease border restrictions

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NEW TOURIST PACKAGES OFFERED

Travel agencies across the board also recorded spikes in package tour sales in Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

With demand for travel to these three destinations expected to continue to rise, agencies have launched – or plan to launch – new tour packages.

Chan Brothers Travel has seen an increase in inquiries about all three destinations, particularly Japan, said Jeremiah Wong, senior director of marketing communications.

Japan leads searches on its website, with a 30% increase after announcing a relaxation of travel regulations.

Chan Brothers will continue to expand group travel in Japan to include destinations like Mie and Niigata prefectures, Wong said.

This week, Chan Brothers also launched more free and easy travel packages to popular Japanese regions like Tokyo, Karuizawa, Kyoto, and Osaka.

“For Japan, we are already seeing strong demand with over 100 group tours departing until the end of the year. With Chinese New Year and cherry blossom season in 2023, we expect demand will continue to rise,” Wong said.

His agency is also planning to launch a six-day Hong Kong tour aimed at families during school holidays.

But Mr Wong noted that bookings in the region are currently limited to visits by friends and relatives or business travelers – as the continued requirement for multiple tests on arrival remains a ‘shock absorber’ for tourists .

For Taiwan, Chan Brothers launched group tours in late July, awaiting a reopening. They have received “positive traction” and demand and bookings are now increasing as restrictions ease, Mr Wong said.

At travel agency CTC, overall demand for tours in Japan, Hong Kong and China is up 100% from a month ago.

“We have been working closely with our counterparts, NTOs (national tourism organizations) and airlines for the latest updates to develop and launch new itineraries for our customers,” the head of marketing told CNA, Kelly Toh.

Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan are the main destinations for Singaporeans, especially during the holiday season, she added.

“While airfare may be limited, particularly for the holiday season, we will provide alternative options and work with various airlines,” Ms. Toh said.

MORE REQUEST TO COME

Growing demand for Japan tour packages was further boosted by the weak Japanese yen, said Stella Chow, senior marketing manager at Hong Thai Travel.

The yen has depreciated by almost 20% this year. On September 22, Japan intervened in the currency market for the first time since 1998 in a bid to shore up the struggling yen, following the central bank’s decision to maintain ultra-low interest rates that have lowers the currency.

Booking platform Klook has seen a tenfold increase in searches for Japan since announcing its reopening, with travelers from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore driving that demand, it said in a statement. press release Wednesday, September 28.

Searches for Japan on the Expedia platform also increased immediately after the country’s announcement, it said in a press release.

Searches for hotels in Japan from Hong Kong increased 11x, while searches for flights increased 12x.

Searches for hotels and flights to Japan from Singapore and Taiwan also tripled, the booking platform said in a press release.

The Hong Thai agency saw a 30% increase in Japan tour inquiries and a more than 50% increase in Hong Kong and Taiwan inquiries.

It has “a few new tours” in Taiwan that are ready to roll out, but is awaiting more updates on entry regulations there, Ms Chow said.

For Hong Kong, the agency plans tours to include surrounding islands like Cheung Chau and Tai O.

“However, current regulations require PCR (polymerase chain reaction) or ART (rapid antigen test) tests and do not allow on-site dining for the first three nights upon arrival, which is not really suitable for leisure travellers,” Ms. Bouffe said.

“Demand will likely increase when there is further easing of regulations.”

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