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Travel agents smile at Golden Week bookings

Date Posted: 2009-04-24

Well over one-half million people are booked to leave Japan during Golden Week, which begins April 26th, an increase of more than 10% over last year.

With the traditional Golden Week travel period slated for April 25th through May 5th, the Japan Association of Travel Agents, H.I.S. Company, which owns No. 1 Travel, and JTB Corp., the nation’s largest travel agency, say “recession or no recession, people want to go abroad.” Tatsuo Mori, speaking for the travel agents’ association, says “the drop in fuel surcharges is good motivation for people who held back from traveling abroad over the Christmas holiday.”

H.I.S. Co. says its Golden Week bookings have jumped more than 26% over last year. Korea, which is suffering with its currency, is a popular destination as travelers get more bang for their buck. Nearly 100,000 have booked Korea destinations, an increase of 32.4% over Golden Week 2008. One travel agency official says there’s a 14.9% decrease in travel costs this year, to an average ¥216,800, thanks to the plummeting fuel surcharges. Apart from Korea, Hawaii, Guam and Saipan account for the bulk of people headed to international destinations.

Lower gasoline prices and reduced expressway tolls are being reflected in a projected three percent increase in domestic travel. Okinawa is being cited as a Golden Week domestic tropical vacation hotspot, with a surge in bookings to Naha, Miyako and Ishigaki.

The peak travel periods are predicted for May 2nd when travelers depart airports, and May 6th, when travelers return home. Narita International Airport alone is expecting a 4% increase in travelers during the holiday period, with nearly one million flying through Japan’s top gateway.

Japan Air Lines and All Nippon Airways spokesmen say prices for Singapore kerosene, which both airlines use, has dipped to the lowest level in four years at $64.22 a barrel. Last fall’s price averaged $115.92, leading the airlines to both slash fuel surcharges by 90%.

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