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10 Nov, 2011

Japanese Outbound Up 9%, Inbound Still In Slump – JNTO

Imtiaz Muqbil at the WTM 2011 in London

Japanese outbound travel is growing again with total departures of 1,792,000, in August 2011, up 9.1% over August 2010, and 1,645,000 in September 2011, up 6.7% over September 2010. However, inbound arrivals still remain in a slump, due to continuing fears over the radiation fallout from the 11 March 2011 tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster.

According to a JNTO report quoted by the Japan Tourism Marketing (JTM) company, the outbound figures are even more remarkable by the fact that the September 2011 departures were the second highest for that month after the highest record recorded in the year 2000.

See the detailed chart here. [Editor’s Note: Although the analysis report said the Sept 2011 outbound figure was up 9.1%, the Excel chart shows the the total as 1,786,412, up 8.8% over Sept 2010. The reason for the discrepancy, relatively minor though it is, was not explained].

Said the JTM analysis, “The international airlines have resumed their normal flight operation which had been temporarily suspended or downsized after the 3.11 catastrophe. The demands for overseas travel, both business and holiday, have shown a tremendous recovery, thanks to the recent rise of Yen. In September, Taiwan enjoyed 33.9% increase of Japanese tourist arrival over the same month of the previous year. Korea followed with +19.9% in Japanese tourist arrivals in September.”

The JTM analysis quoted Narita International Airport as reporting that the number of Japanese departures in August 2011 was 827,872 down 7.8% from the same month of the year before. Haneda Airport recorded twice as many Japanese departures 280,470 (+117.8%) as August 2010. The total international departure from two of the Tokyo Metropolitan Airports in August increased by 12.4% from the same month of the previous year.

Japanese international departure from Kansai International Airport in July was 347,820, (+6.2%) while Central Japan International Airport saw an 1.6% increase to record 165,114.

Japan Inbound Travellers in September 2011

According to the JNTO, as quoted in the JTM analysis, the number of international visitors to Japan in August 2011 was 546,800 (down 31.9% from August 2010), and in September 539,800 (down 24.9% from September 2010).

The JTM report said, “After the March disaster, while the international visitor figure for 2011 is gradually catching up with that in 2010, the radiation issue remains a big challenge for full recovery. Additionally, continuous high exchange rate of yen against major international currencies is another hampering factor against tourist traffic flow to Japan.”

Among the major source markets, Thailand with added airline seat capacity is the only country whose tourist arrival to Japan in September exceeded that in the same month of the previous year. Visitors from China, Hong Kong and France showed a remarkable recovery in September, while Taiwan, Singapore and the U.S. saw a slowdown in the pace of recovery.

See the detailed chart here.

Gross Sales of Major Companies (Outbound Travel Products)

According to the JTM report, gross sales in outbound travel of the top 50 travel companies were approximately 246 billion JPY in August 2011. It has increased by 2.3% from the same month of the previous year. Gross sales of outbound package tours in August 2011 were 91.0 billion JPY, increased by 0.3% from the year ago, while total number of tourists on package tours decreased by 4.6%.

Economic Outlook

According to the JTM report, in October, the Japanese government announced that the recent Japanese economy is still picking up although the pace decelerates, while difficulties continue to prevail due to the Great East Japan Earthquake. Concerning short-term prospects, reflecting supply chain reconstruction and the effects of policy measures, the Japanese economy is expected to continue to pick up.

However, the report said, “there are downside risks that could stem from constraints of electric power supply, the consequences of the nuclear accident, further slowing down of less resilient overseas economies, and volatile fluctuations in exchange rates and stock prices. It should also be noted that there is still a risk of the adverse effects of deflation on the economy and a concern about a possible deterioration of the employment situation.”

The consumer price index for September was 99.9, the same level as previous month. The unemployment rate for August dropped by 0.4 point to 4.3% from July 2011, the report said. The yen recorded history high against U.S. dollar and Euro, which is a motivating driver for Japanese overseas travelers, while it is a threat to Japanese industries that depend heavily on exports.