Contrary to concerns that Japanese tourists might be put off by high-priced tours to Sochi, Russia, site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, tour operators say sales have been brisk.
Sochi, a resort area in the Krasnodar Krai district located on the Black Sea coast, is not easily accessible from Japan, with no direct flights. The shortest flight time, via Moscow, is 15 to 16 hours.
In addition, there are only a few hotels in the area offering accommodations for foreign tourists as the city has been developed as a health resort for domestic travelers.
Even so, JTB Corp., Japan’s largest travel agency, said it has already met its sales target for individual customers. This is despite the fact that prices were 1.5 times higher than for package tours JTB offered for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.
“Many Japanese athletes are expected to win medals (at Sochi),” and Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Summer Games may also have stirred Japanese people’s interest in the Olympics in general, a JTB agent said.
JTB’s packages for a five- to nine-day stay range from ¥660,000 to ¥1.35 million. The price covers the ticket cost for some Olympic events.
According to JTB, the opening and closing ceremonies and figure skating are the most popular events among its customers.
Another travel agency, Club Tourism International Inc., said it has sold out its ¥1.2 million tours, which include select event tickets, including men’s and women’s figure skating as well as men’s ski jumping.
Representatives of HIS Co. said they “have nearly reached their target.”