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Weaker Japanese yen has limited impact on travel costs

2013/03/06 19:35:52

Taipei, March 6 (CNA) No significant reductions have been seen in the cost of travel to Japan as a result of the weaker Japanese yen, as surging demand has largely offset any benefits in terms of currency exchange rates, local tourism insiders said Wednesday.

While the yen has lost 10.2 percent of its value against the Taiwan dollar over the past three months, the overall cost of travel to Japan has only dropped by NT$1,000-3,000 (US$33-99), or 5 percent, per trip compared with the same period of last year, they said.

This can be attributed to brisk demand, with more people booking trips to Japan in expectation of lower travel expenses due to the yen's depreciation, said Anthony Liao, president of Taiwan-based Phoenix Tours International Inc.

"We have seen about 30 percent growth in the number of Japan-bound tourists," Liao said, explaining that the demand has pushed up the costs of both group travel packages and plane tickets.

These demand-fueled price rises have subsequently offset the depreciation of the yen, said Chen Tzu-chia, an official at the Travel Quality Assurance Association.

Chen said that although more flight routes have been established under an open-skies agreement between the two countries, which allows Taiwanese carriers to operate more scheduled services to certain Japanese destinations, they are not likely to contribute to lower prices.

"Most of the new destinations are either in Hokkaido or Shikoku, where fewer travelers go in the spring," Chen said.

Since travel momentum to the country -- which was devastated by a massive earthquake March 11, 2011 -- has gradually recovered, demand for trips to Japan is likely to remain high throughout this year, he added.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)