Magazine article Business Asia

Golden Week Lives Up to Hype. (Best Business Hotels in Asia Awards)

Magazine article Business Asia

Golden Week Lives Up to Hype. (Best Business Hotels in Asia Awards)

Article excerpt

In what could be good news for Asia's beleaguered travel industry, Japan's Golden Week period proved to be a hit, almost reaching record numbers of Japanese travellers.

An estimated 22.5 million Japanese travelled between 25 April and 5 May, the extended Golden Week period this year, according JTB Corp, Japan's largest travel agency. That's only 1.7 per cent short of the record high set last year. Tourists were encouraged by discounts of around 25 per cent on some domestic package holidays.

The turnout surpassed the expectations of travel agents, who feared that Golden Week spending would be squeezed this year by recession and lingering terrorism fears. Many trips were booked only a few weeks, rather than months, ahead of the holidays. As recently as late March, Japanese travel agents feared that this year's Golden Week would be one of the bleakest ever.

Change of heart

Agents saw no single reason for travellers' unexpected change of heart. Some credited pent-up demand, as many consumers cancelled tours after 11 September's terrorist attacks in the US, and said increasing use of the internet for last-minute bookings helped them.

"As long as they don't spend too much on something luxurious, they're finding they can still afford to go to wherever they want to go," said Ryoichi Morotome, a spokesman for Kinki Nippon Tourist Co, Japan's second-largest travel agency. Travel to Hawaii, which was more than halved after the 11 September attacks, rebounded to year-earlier levels, and demand for tours within Asia and to Europe rose. …

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