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Economy

Japan set for record number of holiday travelers

'Golden Week' tourists bring fatter wallets to Taiwan, Hong Kong and elsewhere

Taiwan and Hong Kong appear to be among the most popular foreign destinations for Japanese travelers during the upcoming Golden Week holidays. (Photo by Tomoki Mera)

TOKYO -- A record 24.43 million Japanese will take trips domestically or abroad during the Golden Week holidays, with many to spend more than in 2017 and this year's weekend and midweek days off especially conducive to extended vacations.

Incomes have risen from last year for 16.5% of individuals with travel plans, a survey by travel agency JTB found, roughly double the proportion who reported such a gain in 2017.

The higher pay appears to translate into higher spending: Those traveling within Japan have an average budget of 36,200 yen ($338), up 1.7% from last year, while the cost of international travel looks to increase 2.7% to 264,000 yen. Lengthy holidays and larger pocketbooks mean more business for hotels and other travel-sector companies.

The total number of travelers would represent a 1% rise from a year ago, JTB said Tuesday. Some 23.84 million intend to visit different parts of Japan, up 1%, while 585,000 anticipate foreign destinations for an increase of 0.7%.

JTB projected the travel trend covering April 25 to May 5 based on a survey, sales data and flight bookings. Many in Japan will have a three-day weekend starting April 28 and a four-day weekend beginning May 3, offering an opportunity to vacation within Asia.

Short-haul overseas destinations are growing popular, with Taiwan likely drawing 52,000 people for a 2% increase from last year and Hong Kong attracting 26,000 visitors, up 4%. Europe should enjoy a 9% rise to 49,000 visitors, as Japanese tourists return after avoiding the region following terrorist attacks.

Travel agencies report different customer preferences. Hawaii ranks as the No. 1 overseas destination for a sixth year running among H.I.S. customers. The Aloha State, welcoming to Japanese-speaking visitors and boasting many Asian restaurants, is a magnet for families, the travel agency says.

Many Hankyu Travel International customers, particularly older tourists, are flocking to European countries such as Italy and Spain. Taiwan and South Korea are hot destinations among Nippon Travel Agency clients, with the tourism company saying that on some days more than 70% of its customers will head to other parts of Asia.

Those with domestic travel plans are keeping their trips short and sweet this year, with two-day getaways being the most popular choice, cited by 42.8% of respondents in the JTB survey. The poll also found that 30.1% of travelers are staying at traditional inns, up 5.8 points. And a television show has spurred strong interest in the southern Kyushu region, Kinki Nippon Tourist reports.

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