Since 2015, consultant Justine Goh, 32, has been visiting Japan every year to snowboard, explore and enjoy a meal.
So, in October 2021, after the vaccinated travel lane was announced, he made a pre-order to fix the fare. On his last trip to Japan in early 2020, Mr. Go paid $ 690 each for Singapore Airlines flights from Fukuoka and Osaka for himself and his wife.
They originally planned to travel in April, but changed their flight to October at the beginning of the year. Checks by The Straits Times show that prices for similar flights have doubled since then.
Mr. Go is one of many Singaporeans hoping for a wider reopening of Japan’s borders after the government announced that it would begin accepting tourists from 36 countries from June 10. These are limited to tour groups.
A travel agency who spoke to The Straits Times before the announcement said there was a surge in inquiries and bookings for this fall / winter season.
For example, EU Holidays secured about 100 tour reservations from September to December at the Japan Travel Fair held at the Suntec City office this month.
The agency’s director, Ong Hanjie, said customers were less price-conscious and booked tours faster than before the pandemic. “Singaporeans love Japan so much that they are dying to go home,” he says.
The company is so confident in the reopening of Japan that it promised a full cash refund if this did not happen. This is unusual among travelers who usually offer credit and date changes.
Meanwhile, JTB Singapore has received a small number of reservations, despite waiting for an official announcement regarding the size of the tour groups allowed.
The company’s executive director, Shin Fujimoto, said these early bookings indicate stagnant travel demand among Singaporeans who have been inquiring since March.
He expects sales to exceed pre-pandemic sales later this year. During the peak season of October-December and March-May, there are about 5,000 bookings per month.
Another agency, Follow Me Japan, also responds to customer inquiries and customizes the tour itinerary.
However, managing director Risa Nishimura says the cost of the tour package will be 10-20% higher than before the pandemic.
Airlines have not yet increased their flights to meet the surge in demand, fuel costs are pushing up land transportation prices, and hotel prices are rising due to lack of human resources across the hospitality industry.
But independent travelers are optimistic that the news will give more relaxed rules in the coming months.
Technical consultant Chan Guo Wei, 30, is planning to travel to Hokkaido with his wife and parents in September.
He is confident that the trip can go on. If not, JAL tickets paid over $ 1,000 at the beginning of May will include a $ 50 cancellation fee and will be fully refunded.
Meanwhile, Mr. Go is looking forward to resuming his regular vacation to Japan and has raised enough yen to do so. He hit a low for the first time in 20 years due to the weak yen last month, and changed the low in the low four digits with the multi-currency mobile wallet “Youtrip”.
“I’m going to travel to Japan again and will be able to take advantage of cost savings on future trips,” he says.