Interest in Japan tours spikes as yen hits low

Travel agencies have received hundreds of inquiries for Japan "semi-individual" trips, with six-day tours going for around HK$7,000 including air tickets, accommodation and quarantine hotel here, according to a local agency.

This came as the yen dropped to a new 24-year-low at HK$5.50 per 100 yen, giving Hongkongers an extra incentive to travel to one of their favorite destinations, after the country reopened to tours without guides last week.

However, Tokyo is still capping the number of travelers at 50,000 daily and requiring them to book flights, hotels and report their itineraries to Japanese authorities through agencies.

EGL executive director Steve Huen Kwok-chuen said his company had received some 1,000 inquiries about Japanese "semi-individual" tours over the past several days.

EGL has launched a six-day "semi-individual" package tour to Osaka starting from HK$6,888, which covers fees for PCR tests before the return and a three-day quarantine hotel on arrival. Six-day tours in Tokyo or Fukuoka begin from HK$7,388.

His company also offer seven-day self-drive tours in Kyushu.

Huen expects more departures when airlines add more flights to Japan this month.

"It takes eight working days for the visas so people have to wait at least two weeks from the date they decide to travel before they can depart for Japan," he said.

But Huen reminded travelers to stay in touch with their agencies in Japan, as they must report to authorities and delay their return if they have contracted Covid. "It [Japan] requires travel agencies to be responsible parties that will take follow-up action if a traveler contracts the virus there, such as extending hotel and flight bookings," he said.

Another tour agency, WWPKG, also received about 1,000 inquiries in the past weekend for tours to Japan.

To meet demand, WWPKG has launched "semi-individual" tours to Tokyo priced from HK$7,599 for six days, which includes a three-day stay at a quarantine hotel upon return, with a flexible charge of HK$700 per night if travelers would like to stay longer in Japan.

Its executive director, Yuen Chun-ning, said his agency has sent staff to provide assistance to customers in Fukuoka.

His company will also send staff to Tokyo and Osaka if the number of customers increases.
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