Source market Japan

What Do Figures Tell Us About Japanese Overseas Travel

The year 2017 left us with the number of 17,889,292 overseas travelers, a 4.5% increase over 2016. The figures show that as the demographics change and the population ages, the senior population is set to continue to be one of the major influencers of overseas travel – along with 10-29 year-old women – in the next decade.

Certain age groups continue to drive demand for overseas travel, each one of them having a say in what the travel industry needs to offer.Ratio of Overseas Travelers in Each Age Bracket

Source: Japanese Travel in Figures 2018

Although the ratio of senior travelers seems rather small, the table below gives you the reason why senior citizens (over 60) are still a major market force in Japan.

Japanese population breakdown by age

Source: Japanese Travel in Figures 2018

Of all overseas travelers, 55.6% were men and 44.4% were women. 2017 marked an increase in the number of female travelers as the ratio in 2016 was 56.3% male to 43.7% female travelers. Compared to 2016, 3.3% more men and 6.0% more women traveled overseas.

Despite the fact that we associate travel mostly with sightseeing and vacationing, every industry professional will tell you that people travel on different purposes and each type of travel requires specific planning and logistics.

The following graph gives information about the purpose of travel.

Purpose of travel 1Source: Japanese Travel in Figures 2018
※Though data research on the frequency of travel is incomplete, the available information shows that a business person travels 1 to 10 times a year, while vacationers travel 1 to 3 times a year.

With the increase of FIT, the prevailing perception is that travel agencies will be losing their power as a market player. Data published by the Japan Tourism Agency shows that in April, the 50 major travel agencies had a 13.8% increase in the revenue from overseas travel. With the number of bookings for the 2018 summer season exceeding that of the previous year (source here), the trend remains steadily on track.

Seasonal Fluctuations

The seasonal fluctuations of overseas travel differ to an extent from the high and low seasons in other countries as they follow both the end of the school & fiscal year in March and the O-bon holidays in August.

Seasonality of Japanese overseas travel

Source: Japanese Travel in Figures 2018

Though the seasonality figures for 2018 are not out yet, the summer peak this year is characterized with strong demand for resort holidays and destinations in Asia and the Pacific, as the chart below indicates.

Most popular summer dest 2018

Source: JATA Survey of Travel Market Trends in Summer 2018


Ratio of Japanese Overseas Travelers

The breakdown by sex and age shows that only in three age groups (0-9, 10-19 and 20-29) the number of female travelers exceeds that of male travelers. In the age groups of 40-49 and 50-59 a considerably higher number of men than women travel overseas.

Ratio of overseas travelers by age and age

Source: Japanese Travel in Figures 2018


Travel Companions

The graph below shows the breakdown by the type of companion they traveled with in 2016 and 2017.

Travel companions

Source: Japanese Travel in Figures 2018

As mentioned in our previous articles, the Japanese seniors are not rich in the conventional sense of the word. Many border on frugal in their everyday life, yet many can afford traveling overseas on a regular basis and those who do travel, expect to get value for money during their holidays abroad.

Those who travel are looking for new destinations, places beyond the ones they have already visited and are easy to reach. On-spot experience, mingling with the locals, getting a taste of the local everyday life continue to be on the top of the wish-list of the repeat travelers. Although the seniors are still most interested in cultural experiences (world heritage, historic sites, etc.) between 20 – 30 percent of them also vacation in resort destinations on three-generation family trips. Guess who foots the holiday bill in such cases! Here is a hint: With housing loan payments and education expenses, young parents are far from being able to spare finances for such holidays.

The increase of FIT among the youth has led to a greater demand for short-haul Asian destinations, which, in turn, has left the travel industry with homework: conveying its readiness and willingness to create and offer tour products for the young travelers.



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