Travel Trends for Summer Vacation 2023 (July 15 to August 31)
●The number of domestic travelers is expected to be the same level as the pre-COVID period at 72.5 million (116.9% year-on-year).
●The number of overseas travelers is expected to be 1.2 million (214.3% year-on-year).
●Short trips are common for overseas travel, with a sign of recovery seen for Hawaii, Korea, and Taiwan.
JTB has summarized the outlook for travel trends among people planning overnight or longer travel during summer vacation (July 15 to August 31, 2023). This report compiles data based on economic indicators, industry trends, transportation service providers' moves, accommodation reservations, and consciousness surveys. The JTB Group has published the data since 1969, with this year's data being the 54th edition. Please note that the Group did not announce the average cost for overseas travel or the amount spent on overseas travel in 2022 due to the border control measures to prevent COVID-19 infections. The following are the survey findings.
(Figure 1) Estimated figures for travel trend during summer vacation
[Travel Trend Survey: Survey Methodology]
Fieldwork dates : June 14 to 17, 2023
Respondents : Men and women aged 15 to 79 nationwide
Sample size : 20,000 individuals for the screener and 2,060 for the main survey
(The respondents for the main survey were recruited from those who responded they would/probably would travel during summer vacation in the screener.)
Survey focus : Overnight travel or longer planned from July 15 to August 31, 2023
(Domestic travel is limited to sightseeing and homecoming trips; overseas travel includes business trips.)
Survey methodology : Online survey (Research agency: Macromill, Inc.)
<Socioeconomic Environment and Trends among Consumers>
- COVID-19 and Travel/Tourism Trends
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared an end to the COVID-19 crisis as a "public health emergency of international concern" on May 5, 2023. Many countries and regions implemented initiatives to normalize socioeconomic activities even before WHO's announcement. In line with its announcement, relevant moves have accelerated even further. Some countries and regions still implement immigration and behavioral restrictions today. However, with the steady progress of the relaxation of border control measures, international air flights and cruise ships are now ready to operate with a view to pre-COVID-19 passenger demand.
The nationwide travel subsidy program in Japan is ongoing even after April 2023. Demand for domestic travel has been strong, resulting from the May 8 shift of COVID-19's status under the Act on the Prevention of Infectious Diseases and Medical Care for Patients with Infectious Diseases to Class V, equivalent to seasonal influenza. The total number of Japanese people having overnight stays in May 2023 was 41,147,000, lower than in May 2019 (41,675,000), a month with 10 consecutive holidays, but higher than in May 2018 (36,636,000). With the recovery of foreign tourists and the resurgence of liveliness in many parts of Japan, the change in the environment due to COVID-19 has raised concerns about a shortage of service industry workers and over-tourism in some tourist destinations/areas.
*1 Source: "Overnight Travel Statistics Survey," Japan Tourism Agency. The figure for May 2023 is quoted from the first preliminary report, and those of May 2019 and May 2018 were from the final report.
Japan ended the COVID-19 border control measures on April 29 and resumed the same immigration system as pre-pandemic, making it easier to travel abroad. However, the recovery in the number of overseas travelers has been sluggish. 676,000 Japanese citizens departed Japan in May 2023, accounting only for 47.0% of the figure in May 2019 (1,438,000), when there was a 10-day consecutive holiday, and 48.8% of the level in May 2018 (1,384,000).
*2 Source: "Visitor Arrivals to Japan and Japanese Overseas Travelers," Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO). The figure for May 2023 is an estimate, and those of May 2019 and May 2018 are actual.
- Economic Environment Surrounding Travel and Leisure Consumption and Consumers Mindset
Despite the Japanese economy being on the road to recovery with the lifting of most COVID-19-related restrictions, geopolitical factors and monetary policies in the US and Europe continue to make it difficult to forecast the outlook for its economy. The assessment of the current state of the Japanese economy in the June 2023 Monthly Economic Report says that the Japanese economy "is picking up moderately," following an upward revision in May for the first time in 10 months. The report confirms private consumption has also been "picking up" since May. On the other hand, the report considers a downturn in international economies as a downside to Japan's economy and warns against price hikes and fluctuations in financial and capital markets.
Despite the Nikkei Index continuously above 30,000 yen, the current economic situation in Japan continues to be difficult. Due to a rapid yen depreciation against the dollar since 2022, the current exchange rate is still in the 140-yen range to the dollar. This has resulted in continued soaring prices of imported goods, energy, and other commodities since the second half of 2022, with price hikes affecting household budgets. Looking at consumer price indexes for major items, a continued upward trend is observed, except for electricity bill, which is subsidized, and transportation and communication costs are also on the rise (Figure 2). Under these circumstances, daily living conditions have become increasingly tough. According to the "Impression of Present Household Circumstances" section of the Bank of Japan's "Opinion Survey on the General Public's Views and Behavior," the proportion of respondents who said they "have worsened" has been growing since September 2021, reaching 56.0% in March 2023, 3.0 points higher than in December 2022 (Figure 3).
(Figure 2) Transition of consumer price index
Source: Prepared by JTB Tourism Research & Consulting Co. based on the data from Consumer Price Index (2020 base), Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications
(Figure 3) Impression of present household circumstances
Source: Prepared by JTB Tourism Research & Consulting Co. based on the data from an Opinion Survey on the General Public's Views and Behavior, Bank of Japan
In the question asking about the respondents' income and household finances in our survey, the score for "My income was up from last year" (17.4%) was higher by 0.4 points, and that for "My income was down from last year" (27.4%) was lower by 6.1 points than those in the previous year's survey, indicating a positive trend in terms of income. "My summer bonus was up this year" (8.3%) was down 1.1 points from the previous year, but the decreasing gap was smaller than the 3.2-point decrease in "My summer bonus was down this year" (17.8%), suggesting a slight improvement in bonuses. Possibly because of these trends, the share of respondents who selected "I don't try to spend less money on hobbies and travel" (27.8%) was up 2.1 points, while those who selected "I try to spend less money on hobbies and travel" (30.2%) was down 6.8 points from the previous year's survey, an indication of a positive sign for strong consumption. On the other hand, household budgets remained tight, and respondents tended to cut back on living expenses and spending on luxury items (Figure 4).
A similar trend was seen in intentions for travel spending over the next year with "spending on hobbies and travel" mentioned above. Those who "want to spend more on travel" (16.6%) increased by 2.0 points, while those who "want to spend less on travel" (34.8%) decreased by 4.9 points, indicating a stronger willingness to increase spending than in the previous year (Figure 5).
(Figure 4) Respondents' life for this year (Multiple answers/N=20,000)
(Figure 5) Spending intention on travel in the next year (Single answer/N=20,000)
A three-point scale was used for the survey this year (e.g., "1. Was up," "2. Neutral," and "3. Was down").
However, in the previous year's survey, a five-point scale was used (e.g., "1. Was up," "2. Was somewhat up," "3. Neutral," "4. Was somewhat down," and "5. Was down").
For comparison with this year, the combined score of "1. Was up" and "2. Was somewhat up" and that of "4. Was somewhat down" and "5. Was down" were used, respectively.
<Summer Vacation Travel Trends Outlook>
3. Summer Vacation Travel Intentions (from Survey Findings)
Regarding travel intention during summer vacation, the findings of the survey mentioned earlier indicated that 36.5% of the respondents said they would (a combined score of those who will/will probably go somewhere), an increase of 0.4 points compared with the previous year (Figure 6). Given that the score in the survey conducted in 2019 was 38.0%, the intention is even closer to pre-COVID-19 than in the previous year. By gender and age group, the younger the age group, the higher the travel intention for both men and women. The combined scores of those who will/will probably go somewhere were down among men aged 29 or younger to 50.9% (-2.8 points vs. previous year) and women aged 29 or younger to 47.5% (-3.1% vs. previous year). Meanwhile, scores were 35.0% among men in their 60s (+2.3 points vs. the previous year), 27.3% among women in their 60s (+3.7 points), 29.7% among men in their 70s (+2.0 points), and 25.1% among women in their 70s (+2.8 points). While the travel intentions of men and women aged 29 and younger were down, seniors' intentions were up from the previous year, indicating that these individuals, who were cautious about traveling during the pandemic, have become more positive about it (Figure 7).
As reasons for having no intention to travel during summer vacation, the most common response was "Many places are crowded during summer vacation" (30.1%), followed by "I want to relax at home" (26.9%) among those who have no plans to travel. A notable decline of 12.7 points was seen for "I'm still worried about the COVID-19 infection" (12.1%) from the previous year (Figure 8).
(Figure 6/7) Travel intention during summer vacation (July 15-August 31, 2023) (By gender and age group/Single answer/N=20,000)
(Figure 8) Reasons for having no intention to travel during summer vacation this year (Multiple answers/N=12,697)
- Forecast of Travelers for This Year's Summer Vacation
The estimated number of travelers is 73.7 million (117.8% vs. the previous year and 97.7% vs. 2019).
The number of domestic travelers recovered to the 2019 level; travel costs rose due to price hikes and strong demand.
The number of overseas travelers shows a sign of recovery, accounting for about 40% compared to 2019.
Based on data from various economic indicators, industry trends, transportation companies' actions, accommodation reservations, and various consciousness surveys, we estimated travel trends during summer vacation (July 15 to August 31, 2023), with the total number of travelers at 73.7 million (117.8% vs. previous year and 97.7% vs. 2019) and total travel expense at 3.1772 trillion yen (95.0% vs. 2019).
The number of domestic travelers is estimated at 72.5 million (116.9% vs. previous year and 100.1% vs. 2019), the average cost for domestic travel at 40,000 yen (108.1% vs. previous year and 109.6% vs. 2019), and the total domestic travel spending at 2.9 trillion yen (126.4% vs. previous year and 109.7% vs. 2019). Although the proportion of the respondents who said they would "go (a combined score of those who 'will/will probably go somewhere')" in the survey mentioned earlier is slightly lower than in 2019, the number of domestic travelers is expected to be roughly on par with 2019, as the domestic travel intention has not declined as much as that of overseas travel. The average cost of travel was the highest ever since this survey began due to soaring prices, increased demand for travel, and labor shortages in the service industry.
The estimated number of overseas travelers is 1.2 million (214.3% vs. the previous year and 39.6% vs. 2019). The average cost of overseas travel, calculated for the first time in three years, is estimated at 231,000 yen (99.6% vs. 2019). The estimated value of overseas travel consumption is 277.2 billion yen (39.4% vs. 2019). Despite the growing willingness for travel, high prices, a weak yen, and anxiety about traveling abroad for the first time in a long time have made short-term travel to destinations relatively close to Japan the most popular choice. A recovery, albeit gradual, is underway in overseas travel.
When asked about their thoughts on travel for this summer vacation, "Spend more days on travel than last summer" was the most common response at 22.0%, far outperforming "Spend fewer days on travel than last summer" (3.7%). While 7.3% of respondents selected "Take days off on August 14-18 (i.e., Bon holidays) to make it a long leave and make a trip," 12.8% selected "Take a long leave and make a trip to avoid the Bon holidays." It seems that a reasonable number of people have travel plans to avoid crowds and high travel costs. (Figure 9).
(Figure 9) Thoughts on travel for this summer vacation (Multiple responses, N=2,060) (Showing only some answer options)
Specific trends will be described in the following chapters.
- Longer trips to more distant destinations are gaining popularity for domestic travel, with the expanded scope of intended companions and the number of people traveling with them.
There is a trend toward a return to pre-COVID-19 tourism, where travelers enjoy landscapes, food, and places of interest.
Travel trends were analyzed specifically for 1,816 respondents who selected "In Japan" as their travel destination in the survey regarding this year's summer vacation travel, among all main survey respondents (2,060). Compared to the summer vacation in 2021 during a state of emergency, respondents tended to make longer trips to farther destinations in 2022. As travel companions, they tended to travel often, not only with close families but also with friends/acquaintances. Such trends have gained momentum this year, and travel trends are returning to the pre-COVID-19 situation. Looking at the public transportation used, the scores for flights and JR Shinkansen were up. Specific findings are as follows.
Purpose of travel: "Spend time with family" (10.9%) had the highest rating, followed by "Visit hometown" (10.0%) and "Relax in an onsen" (9.8%). The ratings were also up for "Enjoy nature and scenery" (8.5%), "Enjoy meals and local cuisine" (7.2%), and "Visit famous landmarks and historical sites" (5.2%). During the pandemic, people tended to spend time in specific places with family and loved ones to prevent infection. However, the conventional demand seems to have returned, and they now want to enjoy the scenery, sights, and specialties (Figure 10).
Travel duration (days): On an all-respondent basis, "2 nights 3 days" (36.2%) was the most common choice, up 3.1 points from the previous year. "1 night 2 days" (32.6%) was down by 3.2 points, and "3 nights 4 days" (17.9%) by 0.4 points from the previous year (Figure 11).
Companions: "Married couple only" (24.3%) had the highest score, followed by "Family travel with children (up to junior high)" (20.9%), making the aggregated score for "With family" 60.5%. The score for "Alone" (17.0%), which showed an upward trend during COVID-19, was down. Meanwhile, the scores were up for "With family and friends or acquaintances" (6.3%), "With friends, acquaintances, or partner" (14.5%), and "Group" (1.0%). During COVID-19, many people tended to travel with families or alone. But the scope of companions continues to expand from last year (Figure 12).
Travel destinations: "Kanto" (18.3%) was the most popular destination, followed by "Hokkaido" (12.5%), "Kinki" (12.3%), "Koshinetsu" (10.8%), and "Tohoku" (10.1%) (Figure 13). The most common reason for selecting that destination was "There's somewhere I want to visit" (32.0%), followed by "It's my hometown" (15.9%), "I can go there by my car or rent-a-car" (10.5%), and "People I want to meet (friends and acquaintances) live there" (8.8%) (Figure 14). Detailed findings about overseas travel destinations will be available in Chapter 6.
Looking at travel destinations by place of residence, scores for intra-regional travel, i.e., destinations and places of residence are the same, dropped from the previous year in all regions except Kyushu, indicating an increase in travel outside the region (Figures 15 and 16).
Travel cost per capita: The most common answer was "40,000 to under 50,000 yen" (18.5%), up 1.1 points from the previous year, followed by "20,000 to under 30,000 yen" (18.3%) and "10,000 to under 20,000 yen" (16.7%). The total score of 40,000 yen or more was up 4.1 points from the previous year, indicating an upward trend in expenses overall (Figure 17).
Transportation used: "Private car" (49.8%) was the most popular, but the score was down 1.4 points from the previous year. This was followed by "JR Shinkansen" (27.9%) and "Full-service carrier" (20.7%), whose scores were up. During the pandemic, travelers were more likely to avoid contact with others and make short trips by private car to prevent infection, but now they are more willing to travel farther by shinkansen or airplane (Figure 18).
Accommodations used: "Hotel" (63.4%) had the highest score, followed by "Japanese inn" (26.3%) and "Parents' or relatives' house" (18.9%). "Japanese inn" (26.3%, up 2.0 points), "B&B, public accommodation facilities, auberge, etc." (6.7%, up 1.5 points), and "Homestay, rental villa" (3.4%, up 1.2 points) had greater increments than the previous year in the descending order. On the other hand, "Parents' or relatives' house" (18.9%) was down by 0.1 points (Figure 19).
"Places to enjoy natural sceneries, such as national parks and flower fields" (28.3%) was cited most often as interesting destinations in mind, followed by "Places to experience nature, such as mountain climbing, outdoor activities, and camping" (16.4%), but the scores were down from the previous year. By gender and age group, "Places to enjoy natural sceneries, such as national parks and flower fields" was popular among men and women in their 70s, while "Places to experience nature, such as mountain climbing, outdoor activities, and camping" was popular among men in their 30s and women in their 40s. "Fireworks festivals," "Tokyo Disney Resort®," and "Universal Studios Japan" had the highest scores among women aged 29 and younger (Figure 20).
JTB's reservations for accommodation and domestic packaged products achieved 120% year-on-year growth (as of July 5) thanks to a recovery in consumers' willingness to travel. Okinawa ranked top as the most popular destination, followed by Kansai (2nd) and Hokkaido (3rd). Growing demand is also seen for theme parks, such as Universal Studios Japan, Tokyo Disney Resort®, and Ghibli Park.
(Figure 10) Purpose of travel (Single answer/N=1,861) (Showing only some answer options)
(Figure 11)Travel duration (days) (Single answer/N=1,861)
(Figure 12)Travel companions (Single answer/N=1,861)
(Figure 13)Travel destinations (Single answer/N=1,861)
(Figure 14) Reasons for selecting the destination (Single answer/N=1,861)
(Figure 15) Summer vacation destinations by place of residence (By area/Single answer/N=1,861)
(Figure 16) Year-on-year changes in summer vacation destinations by place of residence (By area/Single answer/N=1,861)
(Figure 17)Per capita travel expenses (Single answer/N=1,861)
(Figure 18)Transportation used (Multiple answers/N=1,861)
(Figure 19) Accommodations used (Multiple answers/N=1,861)
(Figure 20) Types of interesting places to visit during this summer vacation (By gender/age group) (Multiple answers/N=1,861)
- Given an improvement in overseas travel conditions, a gradual recovery trend is seen despite a challenging environment.
Compared to 2019, shorter trips are preferred, with Hawaii, Korea, and Taiwan being popular destinations.
Since lifting Japan's border control measures for COVID-19 on April 29, 2023, we have seen a gradual recovery in the number of Japanese traveling abroad. Major Japanese airlines have announced that fuel surcharges, which soared last year, would be lowered for tickets issued in August and beyond, which is expected to have a positive impact on overseas travel. Many applications have been made for passports that expired during the pandemic, with many people lining up for the processing in central Tokyo, showing a sign of positive attitudes toward travel.
However, airline seat supply has yet to fully recover to 2019 levels. The weak yen, price hikes, and staffing shortages in the service industry remain challenging worldwide. Given these circumstances, the number of overseas travelers during the summer vacation period is estimated to be around 1.2 million, which is 214.3% vs. the previous year and 39.6% vs. 2019.
Of the 2,060 main survey respondents, 199 (9.7%) selected "Overseas" as their summer vacation destination this year, up 5.0 points from the previous year. For reference, the score was 10.5% in 2019.
"3 nights 4 days" (26.6%) was the most common travel duration (days), followed by "2 nights 3 days" (20.1%) and "1 night 2 days" (11.6%). The total score of the answer options for 3 nights or fewer was up by 33.8 points compared to 2019. The top destinations were "Korea" (19.1%), "Taiwan" (16.1%), and "Hawaii" (12.6%). The most common travel expense was "40,000 to under 50,000 yen" (16.6%), followed by "70,000 to under 100,000 yen" (15.6%). The total score of the answer options for 50,000 yen or under was up by 32.3 points compared to 2019. A short trip to a destination relatively close to Japan is popular for this year's summer vacation abroad, and the cost of the trip seems to be slightly lower as a result (Figure 21-23).
Hawaii ranks top in the popularity ranking among JTB's overseas packaged products, followed by Korea in second and Taiwan in third. Guam and Singapore are also popular, indicating a strong demand for nearby destinations, especially in Asia.
We asked all screener respondents, including those who will not be traveling during this summer vacation, about their intentions for future overseas travel after the summer vacation. Looking at the timing of overseas travel by destination, Hawaii (12.5%) had the highest score for "Want to go there immediately," followed by Europe (11.0%) and Australia/New Zealand (9.7%). In East Asia, the top two destinations were Taiwan (9.0%) and Korea (8.6%). While the recovery is seen in this year's summer vacation for nearby destinations that can be visited in a short trip, recovery is also anticipated for distant destinations as a certain proportion of the respondents demonstrated their willingness to travel farther destinations (Figure 24).
We also asked them about their current intentions for overseas travel, "Want to go there for a change" (30.5%), "Want to go there to eat authentic and delicious local food" (24.1%), and "Want to go there if it is safe and hygienic enough (free of infectious diseases, etc.)" (21.5%) were cited as top positive opinions. On the other hand, negative opinions, such as "Don't want to go there because it doesn't seem safe or hygienic enough (various infectious diseases are prevalent)" (11.6%), "Don't want to go there because immigration procedures seem like a hassle compared to domestic travel" (10.6%), "Can't go there even if I want to because of the weak yen and price hikes" (9.8%) were also mentioned by some. Therefore, it is essential to establish a safe environment with a lower economic burden (Figure 25).
(Figure 21) Travel duration (days) (Overseas only) (Single answer/N=199)
(Figure 22) Destinations for this year's summer vacation (Overseas only) (Single answer/N=199)
(Figure 23) Per capita travel expenses (Overseas only) (Single answer/N=199)
(Figure 24) Future international travel by destination (Single answer, N=20,000)
(Figure 25) Current intention to travel abroad (Multiple answers/N=20,000)
(Figure 26) Transitions of estimated figures for travel trend in summer vacation
* The target period is from July 15 to August 31 (n.b. July 20 to August 31 for 2021).
* The target period is from July 15 to August 31 (n.b. July 20 to August 31 for 2021).
* The survey began in 1969. The numbers of overseas travelers are actual figures.
* Estimation of the average costs began in 1993. Data for 2003 and earlier have been partially revised from the announced figures of the previous year due to trend results.
* The numbers of domestic travelers are estimates. Data for 2003 and earlier have been partially revised from the announced figures of the previous year due to trend results.
* Internet survey replaced the previous marketing research methodology in 2019.
* Since the average cost of overseas travel and the amount spent on overseas travel were not calculated in the 2021 and 2022 surveys, total consumption is based on the amount spent on domestic travel alone.
* YoY comparisons are not shown for total consumption in 2021-2023, as simple comparisons cannot be made.
JTB Corp. Branding & Communication Team (Public Relations)
Phone: +81 3 5796 5833
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