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Tourist travel abroad to drop 14.6% during Japan's Golden Week

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Apr 07, 2008

TOKYO - The number of Japanese tourists heading overseas during this year's Golden Week holidays -- from April 25 to May 5 -- is expected to fall 14.6 per cent from a year earlier to 458,000, marking a second straight year of declines, according to travel agency JTB Corp.

A double-digit percentage drop was last recorded in 2003, when the tourism industry was hit by the spread of SARS overseas.

This year's fall can be attributed to a spike in fuel prices. Airfares include a surcharge linked to fuel expenses. This add-on is currently about 8,000 yen (US$78) higher on the year for one-way trips to North America and Europe and 5,000 yen higher for Hawaii.

In addition, holidays are not aligned well this year, requiring travelers to take three weekdays off for an eight-day vacation, according to JTB.

The number of Japanese tourists visiting Asia is forecast to decline 12.7 per cent to 269,000. Although the number of Japanese traveling to Hong Kong and South Korea is expected to increase 4 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively, JTB sees tourism to China plunging 20 per cent, partly because of food safety concerns.

The declines will be 18.8 per cent for Europe and 12.9 per cent for North America.

Travel within Japan, excluding day trips, is also expected to slip, with JTB forecasting a 0.2 per cent drop in tourists to 21.44 million.

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Tourist travel abroad to drop 14.6% during Japan's Golden Week
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