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S'poreans flocking to Japan again as yen weakens
Publication Date : 27-12-2013
Japan has once again emerged as one of the top holiday destinations for Singaporeans this year.
Travel agencies said that demand for travel to the country has seen robust growth this year, mainly due to the weakened yen and falling prices of tour packages.
According to the Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO), a government body with an office here to promote travel to Japan, over 151,000 Singaporeans visited Japan this year as of November, higher than the full-year figures in 2011 and last year.
In contrast, the figure was only 90,000 in 2003, and it later peaked in 2010 at about 180,000.
In 2011, the number fell to 111,000 as many travellers shunned Japan after the country was hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami in March that year. The number then rebounded to 142,000 last year.
Jane Chang, marketing communications manager for Chan Brothers, said that Japan has been one of the travel agency's top five destinations this year.
It is "also one of the destinations with the greatest growth over 2012, with a 110 per cent growth," she added.
Dynasty Travel's director of marketing communications, Alicia Seah, said that 2013 has been a year of "full recovery" for Japan as Singaporeans regain confidence to visit the country.
She said that Dynasty's tour package sales this year have doubled from last year.
Both tour companies also said that the more remote regions of Japan like Okinawa and its coastal city of Naha, and Gifu, home to heritage sites like Shirakawa-go, which is famous for its farmhouses, are also becoming more popular with Singapore tourists.
A spokesman for the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore said that Japan was the second-most popular tour destination at its latest travel fair in August this year, up from fifth place last year.
It overtook South Korea, which came in third this year.
In a joint statement released on Thursday, Singapore Airlines (SIA) and JNTO announced the signing of their first memorandum of understanding, aimed at boosting tourist arrivals into Japan from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
SIA, which started flying to Japan in 1968, now serves four cities in Japan - Fukuoka, Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo - with 56 weekly flights.
The airline will add a third daily flight to Tokyo's Haneda Airport from March 30 next year, bringing the total number of weekly flights to Japan to 63.
Under the agreement, SIA and JNTO will commit funds of about S$1 million (US$787,836) to support initiatives like advertising and promotional campaigns, as well as programmes for trade and media.