Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Travel Technology

Tripla Expands Into Indonesia Via BookandLink Acquisition

3 months ago

Tripla, which provides a booking engine to hotels in Japan and Southeast Asia, has acquired a travel tech company in Indonesia.

Tripla said it has acquired a 53% stake in BookandLink, which provides software to help hotels track and manage sales through third-party distribution channels. 

The other 47% of BookandLink was acquired by the Development Bank of Japan, Tripla said.

Tripla said the acquisition is part of a larger goal to create a more comprehensive booking and distribution platform for hoteliers. 

Besides a booking engine, Tripla offers products around chatbots, payments, and customer data management. The company said its technology was live in more than 2,400 hotels in Japan as of July 2023, and business is continuing to expand in East Asia, including in South Korea and Taiwan.

And BookandLink was used by more than 2,600 hotels in Indonesia as of July 2023, with a growing presence in Southeast Asia, the company said. 

“The majority of the 50,000 accommodations in Indonesia still use manual processes with pen and paper, motivating us to develop our market further,” said Philippe Raunet, CEO of BookandLink, in a statement.

Tripla said it plans to integrate the two companies and their technologies over the next three years. BookandLink’s founders and roughly 30 employees are joining Tripla.

Tripla started trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange last November with an initial public offering of $5.6 million (¥823.2 million). The company’s stock is down over 13% year to date.

Ideas

IDEAS: Deer Train Transports Visitors to the Famous Deer of Nara, Japan

4 months ago

Roaming the vast Nara Park grounds in the city of Nara, Japan are sacred wild deer, who approach visitors and eat out of their hands as if in a storybook. Now, the transportation to see these deer is equally enchanting.

The recently unveiled Narashika Train, or Deer Train, operated by Kintetsu Railways runs between Kobe and Nara and features spotted-brown, deer-coat seats, a grasslike floor, and customized, deer-themed hand grips and banners.

Deer Train of Nara, Japan, credit: @mareiii04.
Deer Train of Nara, Japan, credit: @mareiii04.

The whimsical ride became so popular that an additional train was added earlier this year. The Deer Train’s schedule is not provided to the public, so, much like the deer themselves, you must have a bit of luck and hope one will approach you.


Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Hotels

Foreigners Are Investing in Japan’s Hotels at an Above-Average Pace

8 months ago

Overseas buyers have made up nearly half of the recent investment in Japanese hotels because of the yen’s relative weakness to other currencies, Japan’s lower interest rates compared to rates in many other major countries, and a rebound in international tourism.

Bloomberg News reported the following striking statement:

“Overseas buyers were responsible for 47% of the 494.3 billion yen ($3.7 billion) invested in hotel deals that closed in the past 12 months — the highest proportion since 2014, according to data at the end of March from research firm MSCI Real Assets.”

Chart Japanese Hotels Are Being Snapped Up By More Foreign Investors

Savills recently issued a report predicting low upcoming hotel supply, which will help hotels sustain pricing power. On the demand side, the country is making a concerted effort to reach record levels of inbound tourism, perhaps with a 60 million a year target for 2025.

See the full article on Bloomberg News.

Airlines

Japan’s ANA Unveils Features of New Carrier Air Japan

9 months ago

Japanese airline company All Nippon Airways (ANA) is preparing to launch its new airline Air Japan in February 2024, unveiling a brand positioning of affordability, comfort and diversity for its cabin crew. 

The medium-haul offering sits firmly between the full-service concept of carrier ANA and its low-cost airline Peach Aviation to meet travel demand from Southeast Asia to Japan. It will compete against Japan Airlines subsidiary, Zipair, which offers similar products. 

The airline company has yet to confirm routes and cities for the new airline but recently unveiled select products and services as part of its Fly Thoughtful brand concept.

Seats will include Type-A and Type-C USB ports and tablet holders. Source: ANA

The cabin will be configured with 324 economy class seats, a seat pitch of 32 inches and a recline feature. The seats won’t have monitors and are made of lightweight material, which is expected to add to its fuel efficiency.

In a push for diversity and inclusion, the company stated its cabin attendants’ uniforms are designed to “value the unique qualities” of its crew, reflecting gender neutrality. It will also be made in-part from plant-derived fabrics.

Cabin crew were involved in the planning of the new gender-neutral uniforms with a “borderless design enabling variations in coordination.” Source: ANA

The Air Japan website is live, but ticket sales have yet to be opened. 

Tourism

Japan Likely to Target a Record Foreign Visitor Count in 2025: Report

10 months ago

Japan intends to draw a record number of inbound travelers in 2025, according to a draft of a government plan seen by Kyodo News on Thursday.

The 2023 to 2025 tourism plan also strives to boost per-person spending to $1,500 (200,000 yen) — up about 25 percent from the pre-pandemic level. The plan includes marketing efforts to coax travelers to visit more than just Tokyo and other well-known cities.

This proposal would be a return to Japan’s ambitious tourism trajectory. At 2020’s start — before the pandemic went global — Japan had aimed for a year-end goal of welcoming 40 million tourists, as Skift reported at the time. That would have been the country’s highest-ever visitor count.

The new plan is still subject to change and would need approval by the governmental cabinet.

Japan spent more than $1 billion over a decade to become more friendly to foreigners to welcome people to the Summer Olympics. That spending might yet pay off, even though the Olympics were a financial bust.

As Skift reported recently:

“Compared to before, Japan now offers more extensive free Wi-Fi, more infrastructure supported with multilingual signage, and increased deployment of universal designs for those with disabilities,” said Michiaki Yamada, executive director of the Japan National Tourism Organization’s New York office since May.

In recent months, the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) said arrivals were rebounding but remained down roughly two-thirds below the pre-pandemic levels of 2019. (You can see Japan’s latest tourism statistics here.)

Japan’s depressed yen has attracted tourism from new markets with temporarily stronger currencies.

“Passenger demand from Canada to Japan is more than double what it was in 2019,” Reuters reported.

Kyodo News report

Tourism

India Makes Covid Test Mandatory for Arrivals From China and 5 More Asian Countries

11 months ago

India is making a PCR Covid test mandatory for inbound arrivals from China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea, from January 1.

Passengers arriving in India from any of these six countries would be required to upload results of tests not older than 72 hours before departure along with a self-declaration on the Air Suvidha portal.

However, at the time of writing this story, the Air Suvidha portal was still not functional and the message reads, “You no longer need to complete the Air Suvidha Form.” 

Launched in August 2020 for international passengers to submit a self-declaration of their health status, the Air Suvidha portal, a digital health and travel document, had been discontinued in November this year.

Fearing another Covid surge, India had been conducting random tests of around 2 percent of international passengers flying into the country.

On Wednesday, officials at the Indian health ministry informed that of the nearly 6,000 passengers tested over the last three days, 39 were found to be positive.

Tourism

Japan to Continue Nationwide Travel Discount Program in 2023

1 year ago

The Japanese government announced on Friday it’s planning to resume its domestic travel discount program in the new year.

Tourism Minister Tetsuo Saito said the government will decide when exactly to relaunch the program, which was initially expected to conclude on December 28, after monitoring Covid cases in the country. Participants in the program, a campaign the government hopes will resurrect a tourism industry battered by the pandemic, are required to have received at least three Covid vaccine doses or test negative for the virus. The Japanese government relaunched the travel discount program in October after pausing it during the heart of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, discounts offered in the program will be reduced next year, with the discount rate to drop to 20 percent from the current 40 percent. The maximum discount amount available for travelers in tour packages, including public transportation services, will also decrease from $58 (8,000 yen) to $36 (5,000 yen).

An image from Asakusa
Japan is extended its nationwide travel discount program to boost a tourism industry that struggled during the pandemic (Flickr/Caribb)

Tourism

Japan to Reopen to Visa-Free Independent Tourists From October 11

1 year ago

It’s official — Japan has finally announced that it would allow visa-free entry to independent tourists, removing the daily cap on arrivals from October 11 onwards, after almost two-and-a-half years of stringent restrictions imposed during the pandemic.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made the announcement on Thursday in New York while attending the UN General Assembly.

Inbound arrivals would need to be vaccinated three times or would have to submit a pre-arrival negative result for a Covid-19 test, according to Kyodo News.

Before the pandemic, Japan allowed visa-free entry for short-term visitors from 68 countries, including the U.S.

To encourage domestic tourism, the Japanese government will also be bringing back the nationwide travel discount program that had been discontinued after the rise in Covid cases.

Dubbing the step an effort to support the tourism, entertainment and industries that have been the worst-affected during the pandemic, Kishida hoped news of the full reopening would encourage more people to be a part of the program.

While Japan had been easing restrictions in a phased manner even since it reopened to foreign tourists in June, the government still required tourists to apply for a short-term visa enter the country as part of approved package tours through a recognized travel agency.

Hotels

Hyatt Hotels to Debut Atona Brand in Japan That Distills and Updates Ryokan Concept

1 year ago

For centuries, Japan has offered ryokans, which are minimalist guest houses typically located near onsen, or natural hot springs used for bathing. Hyatt Hotels said Wednesday that it planned to launch a new brand, Atona, that will distill the elements of traditional ryokans while adding some modern comforts.

Hyatt has entered a fifty-fifty joint venture with Kiraku, a company that works to apply capital to help preserve the best of Japan’s cultural and natural assets.

Other companies have recently attempted to modernize and brand the ryokan concept, including Nobu’s hospitality division and Adrian Zecha, founder of Aman Resorts, whose brand is called Azumi.

Independently managed properties are expected to open in 2025. Kenya Hara will be the creative director of the new brand.

“We hope these ryokans will provide guests, both local and from abroad, a special place to experience the still unseen wonders of Japan, while also positively impacting local economies,” said Kou Sundberg, founder and CEO of Kiraku. For more on Sundberg, listen to this recent podcast.

Tourism

Japan Looks to Resume Visa Waiver For Some Countries From October

1 year ago

As Japan learns to live with the virus, the government has indicated plans to ease all travel restrictions in the “not-so-distant future,” which according to the local media could be as early as next month.

The relaxation in entry restrictions would entail putting an end to the entry ban on independent tourists, removing the daily arrival cap and restoring the pre-pandemic visa waiver for short-term visitors from 68 countries, including the U.S.

Announcing the government’s intention to relax restrictions, Seiji Kihara, the deputy chief cabinet secretary, had said this week that Japan should not fall behind other destinations in attracting foreign tourists.

Speaking at a meeting on Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has also talked about strengthening Japan’s earning power by taking advantage of the yen’s weakness, which is currently at a 24-year low against the dollar.

A weak yen would make the country an attractive destination for foreign travelers.

Japan recently raised the daily arrival cap of inbound tourists to 50,000 from 20,000. However, even this increment is only around 45 percent of the pre-pandemic daily average arrival of 140,000 travelers.

Earlier this month, the Japanese government removed mandatory pre-arrival Covid tests for visitors, provided they are able to submit proof of being vaccinated thrice. It has also scrapped the requirement for guides on group tours.

While Japan has been easing restrictions in a phased manner even since it reopened to foreign tourists in June, travelers are still required to apply for a short-term visa and need to enter the country as part of approved package tours through a recognized travel agency.

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