Quake, planes, and prices: Thai tourists undeterred in the face of Japan’s travel turmoil

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

Thai tourists seem undeterred by Japan‘s recent bout of earthquakes, airplane fireballs, and escalating travel costs.

The Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA) predicts that Japan will maintain its allure as the ultimate outbound destination for Thai visitors this year.

Phumiphiphat Meesamran, TTAA’s Vice-President, revealed that the earthquake on New Year’s Day predominantly impacted Ishikawa prefecture, a lesser-known destination for Thai travellers.

“There are no direct flights from Thailand to this prefecture as it is a secondary destination for Thai travellers, compared with Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Hokkaido.”

Concerns arose among upcoming Japanese travellers, but Phumiphiphat noted a significant drop in worry levels following the government’s lifting of tsunami warnings.

Amidst the turbulence, a recent incident at Haneda Airport involving a Japan Airlines aircraft colliding with a coast guard aircraft raised eyebrows. Nevertheless, the TTAA vice president expressed confidence that outbound trips would proceed according to plan, highlighting that travel packages from January to March were fully booked.

Since Japan’s borders reopened in 2022, Thai tourists have flocked to the Land of the Rising Sun, even overcoming initial restrictions that mandated trips through travel agents, Phumiphiphat revealed. Approximately 70 to 80% of flights between Japan and Thailand have now resumed, contributing to increased travel options and more competitive airfares, ultimately cheaper than the previous year.

In the first three quarters of last year, 631,070 Thai nationals explored Japan, a figure expected to surpass one million by year-end, with the autumn and winter seasons being particularly popular. However, to match 2019’s record-breaking 1.3 million visitors, seat capacity and attractive promotions will play pivotal roles, according to Phumiphiphat.

Despite soaring global travel costs, the enchantment of Japan, coupled with the weakened yen, continues to captivate Thai travellers. Phumiphiphat noted that Japan still offers a variety of affordable products, including hotels, making it an attractive destination even in the face of escalating prices worldwide, reported Bangkok Post.

A standard five-day tour package covering Mount Fuji and Tokyo typically starts at 25,000 to 28,000 baht. The vice president acknowledged a slight rise to 30,000 baht during extended holidays.

The upcoming Thai International Travel Fair, scheduled between January 25 to 28 and hosted by TTAA, has witnessed a surge in demand, with more than 100 booths already booked by Japanese operators.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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