Operators, travellers await Japan visa move
published : 17 Sep 2022 at 05:33
newspaper section: Business
writer: Narumon Kasemsuk
Tour operators and travellers are awaiting confirmation of the new entry rules for Japan after the government hinted that the visa requirement will be lifted in October.
Following a report about possible eased restrictions, Charoen Wangananont, president of the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA), said there's been no official announcement on whether Thailand will be included in the visa-free scheme.
Both tour operators and travellers are eager to know the decision as they have to prepare and adjust their business or travel plans, particularly for the upcoming high season starting next month.
He said even though the Japanese government allows individual travellers to visit without a tour escort, tour package sales will not be affected because some tourists still prefer the convenience of a tour.
Despite loosening entry rules, Mr Charoen said the outbound market to Japan will not dramatically surge because of limited seat capacity and the rainy season being marked by a string of typhoons.
"The number of Thais visiting Japan this year might not exceed 100,000. In addition to unfavourable weather, airfare is another decisive factor as the average price surged," he said.
Mr Charoen said while the visa might be cheaper, other expenditures in tour packages would remain high as inflation affects operational costs.
Chotechuang Soorangura, vice- president of the TTAA, said Japan package sales were stagnant the past few days as tourists wait for a visa exemption to save costs.
"Travel demand is still pending as tourists prefer hassle-free travel. Moreover, they want to save the roughly 1,500 baht for a visa application," he said.
Mr Chotechuang said since Japan allowed tourists to travel freely if tour operators assist with hotel bookings, starting earlier this month, some families required these services from tour operators, but this group is relatively small.
He said the average airfare to Japan is currently 20% more expensive than pre-pandemic prices. With complicated procedures and higher costs, some tourists are staying up to 10 days per trip, while many families stayed for 15 days -- the maximum stay granted to Thai travellers, said Mr Chotechuang.