Japan Plans To Subsidize Holidays To Reignite Tourism

In the wake of the most dismal passenger arrival numbers since records were first kept, Japan may attempt…

Japan Plans To Subsidize Holidays To Reignite Tourism

In the wake of the most dismal passenger arrival numbers since records were first kept, Japan may attempt to kickstart tourism again with subsidized holidays. The Japan Tourism Agency this week proposed paying foreigners half their cost of taking a holiday in Japan.

Your travel to Japan could soon be subsidized by half. Photo: Jay Singh / Simple Flying.

It’s enough to send foreigners like me straight to Google Flights.

Half price holidays for foreigners

The boss of the Japan Tourism Agency, Hiroshi Tabata, told a media event on Wednesday that he’d developed a subsidy plan costing $12.5 billion to entice travelers back to Japan, commencing as soon as July.

To be clear, it’s a plan and not set in concrete yet, and precise details are vague, but The Japan Times says the agency is looking at paying half the travel costs of foreigners to come to Japan.

There’s no word on how it would be paid or what the criteria and exclusions are. Alas, there is no guarantee they’ll cover half the cost of ANA first class and the Park Hyatt in Tokyo.

Method to this proposed cash splash

It sounds like a good deal, but there’s a method to this significant cash splash.

Japan had an interesting response to the CV-19 pandemic. They were much slower than many other countries to close their borders, partly because the Olympics were scheduled to run there this year.

But by April, Japan was moving on this front and began banning visitors from many (but not all) countries. But by this stage, the demand for travel had collapsed in any case, and scores of airlines slashed flights to and from Japan.

Japan-Subsidized-holidays
Visitor numbers to Japan have crashed. Photo: Tom Boon / Simple Flying

The result was only 2,900 inbound visitors landed in Japan in April. Last year, 31.9 million visitors poured into the popular North Asian country. This year, on the back of the Olympics, Japan was expecting 40 million visitors.

It’s a radical reversal for a country that was often squeezed by excess numbers of travelers and was gearing up for the quadrennial sporting event.

The Olympics have been rescheduled to 2021, and everyone’s crossing their fingers borders will be re-opened, and travel resumed by then.

Japan’s airlines have slashed their international services

Inbound travel has long been a significant contributor to Japan’s stagnant economy, and the Japanese Government is keen to start banking revenue from the sector again.

But major local airlines Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways have radically curtailed their international schedules in recent months. Japan Airlines has cut its international services by 96% until the end of June. It is running a handful of flights to Chicago, Vancouver, Los Angeles, London, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Manila, Dalian, Hong Kong, Taipei, and Kaohsiung.

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Both ANA and Japan Airlines have slashed their international flying. Photo: Getty Images

All Nippon Airways has also slashed most of its international flying. It is running a barebones schedule to Bangkok, Manila, Singapore, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Vancouver, Mexico City, London, and Frankfurt.

Most international airlines normally flying in Japan have suspended their services there. Today, at usually busy Narita Airport, there are just a handful of international arrivals and departures amid scores of cancellations. 

Japanese Government cautious but keen to revive inbound travel

The Japanese Government is keen to get more flights operating and to see them fill up. And while border controls remain tight, Japan is looking at easing entry restrictions on foreign nationals.

A timeframe isn’t yet in place, but there are reports the lucrative business and student markets could be targeted first, with the tourist market coming after.

With the Japanese Government rightly being cautious about lifting entry restrictions, Hiroshi Tabata’s July start date for half price holidays could be overly optimistic.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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IndiGo Plans Almost 100 Middle East Repatriation Flights

IndiGo has received permission to operate 97 flights between India and 4 Middle East countries. These flights will…

IndiGo Plans Almost 100 Middle East Repatriation Flights

IndiGo has received permission to operate 97 flights between India and 4 Middle East countries. These flights will operate between the state of Kerala and Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait. The government recently allowed private carriers to operate repatriation flights in a bid to increase the number of citizens returning home. Let’s find out more.

IndiGo will operate 97 out of the 180 flights allotted to private airlines. Photo: Airbus

Demand keeps growing

India began a massive repatriation effort in early May, aimed at bringing home Indians stranded abroad. However, the demand for these flights has massively outstripped supply, with hundreds of thousands registering. This number has been steadily growing, as more countries impose strict lockdowns and suspend flights.

Nearly 60,000 have registered for repatriation from Saudi Arabia and over 200,000 from the UAE. India has had to prioritize those with compelling reasons, such as the elderly, pregnant women, and those with expiring visas. However, the figures show us how many Indians wish to return and the urgent need for more flights.

Air India
Air India has operated all repatriation flights until now. Photo: Tom Boon/Simple Flying

Two days ago, the government announced that it would allow private carriers to operate repatriation flights, subject to approval. While Air India has done an admirable job, with so many registrations it would be unfeasible for a single airline to fly everyone home. The move is meant to satisfy the growing number of Indians wanting to return home as well as help struggling airlines.

IndiGo to lead private repatriation

IndiGo, the country’s largest airline, has been awarded 97 out of the 180 private repatriation flights. While it is unclear how the proportion of flights were divided, it could be roughly based on market share (IndiGo holds around 49% of the market share). It is also yet to be revealed how many flights other airlines will be operating and on what routes.

IndiGo plans to fly 36 flights from Saudi Arabia, 28 from Doha, 23 from Kuwait, and 10 from Muscat. All flights will originate in Kerala and we will receive more details on timings and capacity in the coming days.

Indian Airlines
IndiGo is leading among private airlines in terms of number of repatriation flights. Photo: Getty Images

It must be noted that IndiGo will not fly to the UAE, which has seen the most registrations for rescue flights. This could mean other airlines have been given this lucrative route or Air India will solely operate the route. With the massive Indian population concentrated in the Middle East, it makes sense why the government is focusing on more flights to the region.

Indian aviation’s exciting week

This week has proved to be one of the best for Indian airlines this year. Not only did airlines get the opportunity to fly rescue flights, but also restart domestic operations. This will definitely be a boost to airlines, which have had a tough two months due to India’s flight ban. Airlines also did not receive any form of a bailout in India’s economic stimulus, only long-term plans. However, this week’s twin decisions will help airlines survive in the short-term, as ticket sales provide much-needed revenue.

What do you think about India’s plan for private repatriation flights? Are you hoping to return to India soon? Let us know in the comments below. 

Source : Simple Flying More   

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