GW: Significant Increase in Overseas Travelers… Why May is the Best Month to Plan for “Summer Vacation | FRIDAY DIGITAL

GW: Significant Increase in Overseas Travelers… Why May is the Best Month to Plan for “Summer Vacation

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Pick up recommended destinations for “overseas travel” this summer vacation.

Overseas travel by Japanese is about to resume in earnest. In March of this year, restrictions on entry into Japan were greatly eased. And this year’s Golden Week (GW), with up to 10 consecutive holidays, international flight bookings increased 5.6 times for All Nippon Airways (ANA) and 4.2 times for Japan Airlines (JAL) compared to last year (2021). Hawaii and Thailand stand out as destinations.

A view of the domestic departure floor at Haneda Airport on the first day of GW, when the pre-Corona bustle returned (Photo: Afro)

Many countries and regions, including Europe, are eliminating one after another not only the quarantine requirement at the time of entry, but even the presentation of negative proof. In Japan, a PCR test and negative certificate are still required within 72 hours before departure, and three doses of the new corona vaccine are required as a condition for not waiting after entry into the country. However, these will probably be eliminated in the near future. There is no doubt that the number of people going on overseas trips will increase this summer vacation.

For the past two years or so, I have been practically unable to travel abroad. With the growing mood of “Finally, I can go abroad! I picked up some recommended destinations for overseas travel during this summer vacation. I will also introduce the airline tickets and tour reservations, as well as points to keep in mind when traveling to these destinations.

Let’s start with Hawaii, where ANA’s super-sized aircraft is scheduled to resume service in July.

Hawaii is a popular travel destination for Japanese people in the United States. Major travel agencies such as JTB and HIS resumed sales of tours to Hawaii just before GW, and ANA recently announced the resumption of operations of the “Flying Honu,” an Airbus A380 aircraft exclusively for Hawaii flights, from July.

ANA “Flying Honu” No. 3 aircraft. Has yet to fly to Hawaii.

There is no quarantine requirement for Hawaii, as long as the patient has been vaccinated and provides the prescribed negative testimony. Many people may think, “Let’s start with Hawaii, which I am familiar with,” as there are flights operated by Japanese airlines such as ANA and JAL, Japanese is easily understood in the Waikiki area, and Hawaiian people are friendly and easy to live with.

However, there are some things to keep in mind. First, local hotel prices have skyrocketed. While demand from Japanese travelers has decreased due to the Corona disaster, the number of travelers from the U.S. mainland has increased rapidly, and hotel occupancy rates remain high. With the depreciation of the yen, it is inevitable that hotel prices in Hawaii, which are already high, will seem even higher. The weak yen will also make dining out and shopping more expensive across the board.

In addition, the increase in unemployment due to the new Korona virus is said to have further worsened security in the area. Even though Japanese is easily understood, be careful when walking around town or strolling on the beach.

Asia, which is close to Japan, differs depending on the “openness” of the country.

Asia, a region close to Japan, was also popular before Corona. However, some countries and regions still prohibit entry for tourism purposes, so caution must be exercised.

As of the end of April 2022, Asian countries with no quarantine upon entry include Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam. All of these countries have some entry requirements, such as a negative certificate for PCR or antigen test before departure from Japan, completion of vaccination, and submission of designated documents, but the advantage of not requiring quarantine after entry into Japan is significant.

Kansai Airport has a small number of international flights, and gate vacancies are conspicuous.

One thing to keep in mind is that the number of flights is still low. There are still almost no low-cost carriers (LCCs), as was the case in the past, and ticket fares are high if you only fly with major airlines. Also, the “mask” requirement is stricter than in Western countries.

On the other hand, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong (including mainland China) do not allow entry for tourism purposes. However, South Korea has been gradually easing its entry restrictions since April and will increase the number of international flights arriving and departing from May, so it is likely that even tourists will be able to enter the country in the near future.

Southern Hemisphere “Oceania” also opens one after another withcorona

Australia and New Zealand, which are in the southern hemisphere with almost no time difference from Japan, are also popular destinations for Japanese travelers. Both countries have also opened their doors to travelers with the With Corona attitude.

Australia has eliminated the requirement for quarantine after entry into the country, provided that vaccination is completed, starting in February 2022. Entry for the purpose of travel is also possible. The requirement for a negative certificate was also eliminated in April. If a negative result is obtained from an antigen test or PCR test within 24 hours of entry into Australia, the waiting list will be lifted.

The ban on cruise ships calling ports in Australia was also lifted. Photo shows a cruise ship docking at the Sydney Port passenger terminal on April 18 (Photo: Afro)

New Zealand has lifted entry restrictions on travelers from visa-exempt countries, including Japan, effective May 2, 2022. They are required to complete vaccination, submit a negative certificate before departure, and undergo antigen testing upon arrival in New Zealand and on the fifth or sixth day of arrival. Still, there is no quarantine at controlled facilities, etc., which is significant.

Air service between New Zealand and Japan is still limited, but there are plans to increase the number of flights in the future. Prices are relatively higher than in Japan, and the recent depreciation of the yen is likely to make the cost of staying in these countries even more difficult, but the fact that it is now possible to enter the country is a big step forward.

Europe” will remain in a difficult situation over the long term due to the situation in Ukraine.

Europe,” a popular destination for Japanese travelers, has already eased entry restrictions significantly. There are even countries and regions that do not require negative proof prior to departure from Japan and do not even ask whether or not a person has been vaccinated. Although some mask-wearing requirements remain, the situation is already close to an after-corona situation.

The following is an article I wrote when I covered Europe in April of this year.

Click here for the ” ‘Actually, You Can Go There Already’: The Latest Real Report on Japanese Travel Abroad…” ■Click here to see the article.

Helsinki-Vantaa Airport in Finland. Before Corona, there were many East Asian flights, but many of them were cancelled because flights over Russia are no longer allowed. The airport is almost empty except for Westerners.

However, travel to Europe is still very difficult this summer vacation. This is because Russia’s armed invasion of Ukraine has forced flights between Japan and Europe to take flight routes that bypass Russian airspace, taking much longer than usual. Although both Japanese and foreign airlines continue to operate a limited number of flights, their fares are higher than before.

In addition, fuel surcharges are also higher due to the longer flight times, which weigh heavily on travel costs. Currently, it is not unusual for travel agencies to offer tours of Europe at prices of 400,000 to 500,000 yen for a one-week trip. The situation in Ukraine shows no sign of stabilizing, and the risk of war makes it even more difficult than other foreign countries.

Special attention should be paid when traveling abroad “upon entry into Japan” and “fuel surcharges.

Many people say that the biggest hurdle in traveling abroad with the Corona Disaster is when entering Japan. I have experienced this twice myself, and I think this is exactly right.

When returning to Japan, one must first take a PCR test within 72 hours of departure and obtain a negative certificate. Moreover, the document is a piece of paper that follows the “Japanese government recommended format”. To take the PCR test by yourself and have it written on a piece of paper, you need to have a good command of the language and communication skills. There are certainly services that provide local support in Japanese and hospitals with Japanese doctors in major cities, so if you are not confident in your language skills, you should definitely take advantage of these services, but the cost is quite high.

A guide to the new Corona inspection station at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. The author also took the test here.

And also on arrival in Japan, there is an antigen test. In other words, you cannot enter Japan without undergoing two tests, and you must be prepared for the risk of testing positive twice. If you test positive, you will be quarantined or placed on standby. If you test positive before departure, you will not be allowed to board your return flight, and if you test positive upon arrival in Japan, you will be placed on standby. During the waiting period, of course, you cannot go to work. Those who are allowed to work remotely may still be able to do so, but those who are obligated to go to work will have to take additional time off from work, which will also inconvenience their workplaces. The new coronas are not completely contained in any country or region, and there is still a risk of testing positive even if the vaccination is completed. Travel insurance should be purchased in case of a positive test in the country.

Fuel surcharges, which are added to international airline tickets, are also a severe concern. Especially for tickets issued after June of this year, the surcharge will be raised even higher. For example, JAL charges 9,800 yen to 19,600 yen for flights to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, etc., and 12,700 yen to 23,600 yen for flights to Hawaii. If you are planning an overseas trip during your summer vacation, we strongly recommend that you issue your ticket during May.

Fuel surcharge amounts for tickets issued after June 1 and before July 31, 2022 (excerpt from JAL’s press release)

Most important of all, we need to be careful about the situation of entry into Japan and other countries. Over the past two years or so, whenever a mutant strain has spread, the entry criteria have changed from time to time. You should check daily for information on immigration restrictions in your destination country and in Japan. As soon as you decide on your travel plans, please register your travel plans with Tabiregi-register. Information on Japan’s border control measures and information from the Japanese embassy in your area will be sent to you by e-mail.

Information and data in this article are current as of May 5, 2022.

Click here for “Tabiregi-Register “.

For Shikama Aki’s website , click here.

  • Text and photos (unless otherwise noted) Aki Shikama / Aki Shikama

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