Posted by: Ian Rowley on July 9, 2008
So much for the stronger yen. A year ago Japan’s currency was hovering around 120 to the U.S. dollar, compared to 106 today. But it doesn’t seem to be persuading more Japanese to take overseas vacations.
According to a recent survey by JTB, a big Japanese tour operator, the number of travelers will drop 7% between now and the end of August, compared with the same period a year earlier. That squares with another recent survey from mid-June by the Research Institute of Industry and Regional Economy. That survey found younger people are turning their backs on overseas travel. According to the Institute, 44% of those surveyed in their 20s said they had no plans to go overseas, reports the Nikkei newspaper.
Unsurprisingly, rising prices are one explanation. With fuel costs soaring, Japanese airlines have been adding $100s of dollars to long-haul flights usually in the shape of thinly disguised surcharges. Meanwhile, higher prices in Japan are eating into disposable incomes.
Another explanation, though, is that young Japanese have grown up in the post-bubble years and seem far less inclined to blow large amounts of cash in the same way there parents’ generation did. When the Nikkei asked young people what they would do if they were to receive 200,000 yen (about $1,900), the most popular answer was to save it.
Perhaps most interesting (at least to me) is the differing attitudes between young men and young women towards foreign travel. After saving, taking foreign holidays is still the next most popular answer from the women who were asked how they would the 200,000 yen. But men ranked using the cash to buy computers, cell phones and other gadgets as more important than leaving Japan’s shores for a well-earned break.