National

Overseas bookings skyrocket as 10-day Golden Week offers Japan rare chance to enjoy longer trips

JIJI

Reservations for travel overseas are surging for this year’s 10-day Golden Week period, during which the Imperial succession is set to take place, according to a JTB Corp. official.

As of late January, the number of overseas reservations in the period from April 27 to May 6 had jumped 2.5-fold from a year before, the official said.

Many package tours have already sold out at leading travel agencies, which are rushing to arrange additional tours using chartered flights.

This year’s Golden Week includes 10 straight days of vacation including May 1, which has been designated as a one-off national holiday for when Crown Prince Naruhito will ascend the throne, following Emperor Akihito’s abdication April 30.

At H.I.S. Co., the number of reservations for overseas trips during Golden Week had more than tripled from the previous year as of mid-January.

Golden Week trips usually go on sale after the New Year’s holidays. This time, however, “trips to popular destinations were mostly sold out in mid-November last year,” an H.I.S. official said.

For those without any workdays during this year’s Golden Week, it is easier to plan ahead and fix travel dates earlier than usual, the official said.

Reservations have increased for trips to distant locations such as Europe and the United States, which tend to be avoided during short holiday periods.

At H.I.S., bookings for trips to Cairns, Australia, saw the largest growth from the previous year, up elevenfold, followed by those to New York and Los Angeles, which both jumped sevenfold.

Package tours to popular destinations “sold out immediately, including those that we’ve offered additionally,” even though they tend to be more expensive than last year partly due to the longer duration, the H.I.S. official said.

At JTB, package tours to Europe, the United States and Australia are popular. Luxury cruise ship tours to destinations such as Hong Kong and Taiwan are sold out.

Cruise ship tours usually draw older people, but this year “we’ve seen many reservations from (young) families,” thanks to the unusually long holiday period, a JTB official said.

Nippon Travel Agency Co. had enjoyed a 3.6-fold increase in overseas trip reservations as of late January.

Eager to take advantage of the rare business opportunity, the company is rushing to arrange additional package tours to Italy, Spain and other European destinations that are popular this year, as well as those to traditionally popular holiday resorts such as Hawaii.

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