Japan catering to rising trend in solo overseas tours
-- Nov 07
Ohitorisama — doing things alone — has been a thing in Japan. For instance, restaurants and karaoke spots try to accommodate solo customers so they don’t feel uncomfortable on their own. Now the fad is spreading to overseas tours, and travel companies are cashing in on the trend.

Solo tours accounted for 23.6 percent of all outbound tours from Japan in 2015, up from 17.3 percent in 2007, according to JTB Tourism Research & Consulting Co. Although the rate dropped slightly to 22.3 percent in 2016, it was higher than 21.0 percent for tours with family members or relatives, and close to 23.1 percent for those by married couples.

"The negative image of doing things alone is declining," said Mihoko Kubota, an associate professor at Tokyo-based Asia University.

"More and more people no longer feel lonely when traveling alone, thanks to the widespread use of social media, which help them share their experiences with others," said Kubota, who teaches in the university's hospitality management department. "Also, solo travelers have less anxiety because they can gain information about their destinations on the internet."

A survey this year by the JTB Corp. travel agency found that nearly 70 percent of Japanese who travel abroad alone use package tours. The figure breaks down to 36 percent for tours involving only flight and accommodation arrangements and 33 percent for those accompanied by tour escorts.

Tourists often feel anxious when they travel abroad alone, so demand is strong for guides and local support, a JTB official said.

News source:
Jun 21
The number of foreign visitors to Japan in May set a record for the month. (NHK)
Jun 20
Monday morning’s deadly earthquake in Osaka has affected tourism in the region, with travelers at home and overseas canceling bookings in the affected areas. (Japan Times)
Jun 18
Shinkansen bullet train services in western Japan have resumed following disruption caused by an M6.1 earthquake in the Osaka region. (NHK)
Jun 18
For a Filipino man visiting Tokyo in May last year, the tour of the capital was supposed to be a fun sightseeing trip. (Japan Times)
Jun 16
Japan’s new law on minpaku (private lodging) businesses took effect Friday, but stringent rules may dampen the entry of homeowners into the market, despite hopes that it could help counter a shortage of accommodation amid a growing number of foreign tourists. (Japan Times)
Jun 15
The Japanese government said Thursday foreign travelers with unpaid medical bills will be denied entry to the country in the future, with the number of foreign visitors set to surge in the run-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. (Kyodo)
Jun 15
The number of applications to conduct "minpaku" lodging business under a new Japanese law totaled 2,707 as of a week before the minpaku law goes into effect on Friday, according to Japan Tourism Agency officials. (Jiji)
Jun 15
A day before a new law on minpaku (private lodging services) takes effect, Airbnb Inc. on Thursday welcomed the change and reinforced its commitment to the Japanese market with fresh initiatives. (Japan Times)
Jun 12
Xiang Xiang, a giant panda cub at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo, showed off a playful personality in front of the press on Monday, the day before her first birthday. (Jiji)
Jun 09
Airbnb says it has been obliged by Japanese authorities to cancel thousands of bookings ahead of the introduction of new rules. (NHK)