Low cost airlines, private accommodation and the dispersal of tourism beyond the main hot spots will take the spotlight at the seventh edition of WIT Japan & North Asia which returns to Tokyo on June 28-29.
At the recent CAPA (Centre For Aviation) Global Low Cost Carrier (LCC) Summit in Singapore, it was observed that North Asia was seeing the most activity in low cost airline expansion, from South Korea to Japan and China.
According to CAPA, South Korea’s LCC sector ended 2017 with 121 aircraft, with half of the fleet added in the last three years alone. This number could easily reach 150 this year. Jeju Air remains the country’s largest LCC but Korean Air-owned Jin Air is ramping up its efforts, and could close the gap, according to CAPA analysis.
Speaking at the Aviation Festival in Singapore, Andrew Cowen, chairman of Uriel Aviation Holdings, a Hong Kong-based travel investment vehicle, which now owns Zuji, observed that LCCs carry just seven percent of domestic fliers in China, compared with two-thirds in neighbouring India and Thailand.
Cowen said that LCCs are increasingly interested in serving China’s travel market Òbut often face limitations on operating license and slots as foreign latemoversÓ.
However, the opportunity is immense and Uriel, as a group with diversified travel interests, is targeting Òyoung travellers who are looking for the best dealsÓ. Cowen described them as tech savvy, and they value smooth and easy booking online and are keen to explore, new unique destinations.
In Japan, competition is intensifying as the two leading flag carriers, All Nippon Airways, and Japan Airlines, step up investments in their LCC subsidiaries. Under ANA Holdings are Air Japan, ANA Wings, Peach, Skymark Airlines and, as of October 2016, Vietnam Airlines through a partnership. Peach has 17 aircraft on order, with 20 in service, while ANA has 96 on order, and 218 in service.
Japan Airlines Co Ltd meanwhile has Hokkaido Air System, J-Air, Japan Air Commuter, Japan Transocean Air, and a stake in Jetstar Japan Ð total aircraft on order, 83.
ÒSuch airlift can only mean good news for travel in North Asia Ð it makes destinations more affordable and accessible,Ó said Yeoh Siew Hoon, founder, WIT. ÒIt also means a new type of traveller with different booking behaviours and different expectations and aspirations.Ó
In 2017, visitor arrivals to Japan soared to 28.7m, making it more and more likely that Japan will hit its 40m target by 2020. When it reaches that magic number, the Land of the Rising Sun will climb into the top 10 list of the world’s largest tourism destinations.
Another interesting trend is the rise of private accommodation (minpaku), which made a showing for the first time in Japan Tourism Agency statistics which showed that 12.4% of visitors stayed in this accommodation category in summer 2017.
Singapore, France and Indonesia were the top three markets with the highest usage of private accommodation. Airbnb and Homeaway are stepping up efforts in Japan. Last year, Airbnb signed a partnership deal with ANA and Peach to promote Òa new travel styleÓ. Under the deal, users earn extra miles and coupons if they reserve Airbnb properties through websites of ANA or Peach.
Chinese brands like Tujia, Zhubaijia, Zizake and Onehome are also making their presence, observed Kenichi Shibata, co-founder of Venture Republic. And Japanese OTAs like Rakuten are not to be left out, launching Rakuten STAY late last year to provide branding and outsourcing services to private accommodation owners Ð its aim is to create a network of Rakuten properties with service stations for breakfast, key control and check-in/out management.
As rules are relaxed around private accommodation in Japan, this will mean the greater dispersal of travellers beyond the main zones of Tokyo and Osaka. At the same time, there are moves to privatise the more than 90 airports in Japan.
ÒAll these are interesting and topical trends that WIT Japan & North Asia will focus on, and debate,Ó added Siew Hoon. ÒOur two-day programme will bring together the startups that are bringing change to a hitherto traditional market structure and the major brands and local giants who are consolidating their hold on the markets.Ó
About WIT Japan & North Asia
WIT Japan & North Asia is organised jointly by Singapore-based WIT and WIT Japan Alumni, led by Kei Shibata, CEO of Venture Republic (travel.jp) and Aya Aso, founder and CEO of Savvy Collective. This year will see the seventh edition of WIT to be held in Tokyo. The conference attracted over 500 delegates in 2017. Registrations are now open.
The WIT Conference is Asia’s leading online travel conference, held in Singapore every year, focused on travel technology, distribution and marketing. The two-day event will be held on October 16-17, 2018 and the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre.
WIT has won awards including Most Innovative Marketing Initiative and Trade Conference Of The Year and in 2014, its founder Yeoh Siew Hoon was recognised as Tourism Entrepreneur of The Year in Singapore.
Every year, WIT sees over 500 travel industry delegates in attendance from leading companies such as: Expedia, Ctrip, Google, Facebook, Airbnb, Grab, Paytm, Amadeus, Travelport, and many more.
Over the past 13 years, WIT Conferences have been organised and held in multiple cities around the world, including: Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, Amsterdam, Sydney, Bali, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, Dubai & Taipei.