Wealthy tourists unfazed by pricey trips
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Wealthy tourists unfazed by pricey trips

Pedestrians cross an intersection in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. (Photo: Bloomberg)
Pedestrians cross an intersection in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. (Photo: Bloomberg)

Increased hotel room prices and living expenses in Japan will not significantly affect tourists with high purchasing power as they usually demand premium services, but the outbound market could slow based on seasonality.

A survey by hotel research firm STR found Tokyo's room rates already exceeded the level recorded before the pandemic. A domestic travel subsidy scheme in Japan also contributed to increasing occupancy rates.

The average room rate in January was 14.7% higher than the same period in 2019.

Chotechuang Soorangura, vice-president of the Thai Travel Agents Association, said expensive room rates have been an issue in many countries, not only Japan.

This situation hasn't yet affected travel decisions or caused tour companies to adjust prices, said Mr Chotechuang.

He said tourists are more concerned about high airfares as the trend is forecast to continue for years because of limited flight expansion and high fuel costs.

A six-day tour programme to Japan could cost almost 60,000 baht, up from 40,000 to 45,000 baht in 2019, said Mr Chotechuang.

The outbound market from late May until August is expected to slow as this period is usually a low season for Thai tourists. Many tour companies are expected to reduce the number of available packages and lower prices to meet actual demand.

With the price of Japan's rail system JR pass set to increase by 70% in October, he said it could affect independent tourists.

However, as the majority of travellers to Japan have high spending power and are looking for premium services, while tending to stay longer for trips, Mr Chotechuang said there is an opportunity for tour agents to help by offering car or bus services in Japan.

While the local tourism industry faces a labour shortage, he said the outbound market is fine as Thai tour guides with Japanese language skills are sufficient. Foreign guides can work for a group in Japan.

According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, the country recorded the highest monthly foreign visitors since the pandemic in March at 1.82 million, thanks to the cherry blossom season. For the first quarter, 244,700 Thais visited Japan compared with 347,937 in the corresponding period in 2019.

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