A record number of travelers are expected to arrive and depart Japan during this year’s Golden Week holiday period, according to Japan’s largest travel agency.

JTB Corp. expects 22.93 million people to go on holiday during the period from April 26 through May 6, up 6.6 percent from Golden Week 2000.

The total includes 22.36 million domestic tourists, up 6.8 percent.

The Kansai region is among the most popular destinations, due partly to the recent opening of the Universal Studios Japan theme park in Osaka, JTB said.

In contrast, the number of people traveling overseas is forecast to grow only 0.8 percent to 569,000, reflecting the weak yen.

The growth of overseas tours will be held back also because this year’s Golden Week has two work days in the middle of the break — May 1 and 2 — surrounding holidays on April 30 and May 3 to 6. During the week, tourists are expected to spend 1.07 trillion yen, up 9.7 percent.

JTB made its estimates based on a survey of 2,200 consumers in early March, as well as industry data, including ticket sales and airline bookings at its outlets.

Meanwhile, the Japan Highway Public Corp. has estimated that expressway traffic will peak on May 3 and 4 for roads leading out of Tokyo, and on May 4 and 5 on highways bringing vehicles into the capital.

The longest outbound traffic jam, estimated at 55 km, is expected May 3 near the Hanazono Interchange on the Kanetsu Expressway in Saitama Prefecture. On the inbound side, a 60-km snarl is expected around the Kobotoke Tunnel on the Chuo Expressway in Hachioji.

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