Travelers on tours to Europe soar 40%

Kyodo

The number of travelers who have booked package tours to Europe for the first quarter of 2013 is up about 40 percent from a year ago, while those to China have plunged about 85 percent because of the Senkakus dispute, according to data from four major travel agencies.

With the exception of China, travel overseas is proving popular thanks to the yen’s strength, providing a 14 percent boost for Guam and Saipan and 12 percent for Hawaii, the agencies said Saturday.

The number of Japanese who will travel abroad in 2013 is estimated at 18.7 million, which would reset the high for a second straight year, according to JTB Corp.

The figures for January-March cover travelers who had booked tours by late November.

The increase to Europe is partly attributable to the popularity of northern tours to view the aurora. A Kinki Nippon Tourist Co. official said tours that combine aurora-viewing with a stay in Paris are popular among middle-aged and older people.