Airline ticket prices soar as Japan looks to resume visa-free travel
|People wearing traditional Japanese clothes walk in a street in Tokyo in this July 2020 photo. AP-Yonhap|
By Baek Byung-yeul
Prices of airline tickets from Korea to popular tourist destinations in Japan are soaring as Tokyo signals the resumption of visa-free travel as early as October. Given Japan had been a favorite destination for Korean travelers before the coronavirus pandemic, the popularity of travelling to Japan is expected to increase even more if the neighboring country officially allows visa-free travel, according travel agency officials here, Friday.
Although the Japanese government did not make an official announcement yet, local media there have been reporting that their country could allow foreign tourists to travel freely and enter the country without visas as early as October and abolish the maximum limit on the number of foreigners entering the country a day.
If the plan becomes official, tourists will be able to travel to Japan more easily than they have been allowed to until now, being able to visit only through package group tour programs since June.
“Demand for travel to Japan is soaring in line with expectations that the COVID-19 pandemic is getting weaker and visa-free travel to Japan could be possible. Japan has traditionally been a country guaranteeing a high level of satisfaction that makes Korean tourists want to visit there again,” a spokesman for local travel agency, Modetour, said.
“We presume that Japan would become the hottest tourist destination for Korean tourists this year once the visa-free travel is normalized there,” he added.
On Naver Flight, a popular airline ticket reservation system of the portal site, Naver, airline tickets for round-trip flights from Seoul to Fukuoka on Friday, Oct. 7, and returning on Monday, Hangeul Day, designated as a national holiday, will be priced between 378,000 won ($270.8) and 610,000 won.
Given a round-trip flight to Fukuoka was priced at around 200,000 won before the pandemic, the fare has doubled. Fukuoka, which takes less than 100 minutes by airplane from Seoul, has been a popular destination for Koreans along with Osaka and Tokyo.
“Many Koreans are trying to book tickets departing to Japan in October in advance, expecting that visa-free travel will be available. As overseas travel is still in the recovery stage after the pandemic, the price of airline tickets could increase due to low supply and high demand for a while,” the official added.
Data from ticket reservation site, Interpark, also showed that the number of airline reservations for Japanese cities jumped 343.3 percent on Sept. 13 from a month ago. Of the total international flight reservations, the Japan route accounted for 16.5 percent, the second highest after the Southeast Asia route that accounted for a 49.9 percent share this month, which can be interpreted as a strong signal that expectations of traveling Japan is rapidly growing.