Some 49% of Singaporeans say they’re contemplating Japan for his or her subsequent trip overseas, in accordance to the market analysis agency YouGov.

Interest could also be even larger amongst younger residents. Some 68% of Singaporeans aged 16 to 24 years outdated indicated they’re contemplating Japan for his or her “next vacation,” in contrast to 37% of these aged 55 and older, in accordance to analysis printed in May.

Japan was the best choice amongst survey respondents by a superb margin, with the second alternative, Taiwan, garnering curiosity from 39% of these surveyed. Some 26% indicated curiosity in vacationing in Malaysia, in accordance to the outcomes, however this will likely have been affected by the survey query, which particularly requested about travel plans “by air.”

Still, Wanping Aw, CEO of the Tokyo-based travel company Tokudaw mentioned her firm noticed a big uptick in enterprise after Japan reopened its borders in June — with 50% of enquires and bookings coming from Singapore, she mentioned.

Why Singaporeans like Japan

Japan has all the time been a well-liked vacation spot with Singaporeans, mentioned Aw, particularly amongst those that want a change of seasons.

Spring and winter are the 2 “peak seasons” for vacationers from Singapore, she mentioned: “They like cherry blossoms and snow a lot.”

Singaporean dealer Alex Ng mentioned he’s planning a visit to Japan this autumn.

Wanping Aw at Shinjuku Gyoen, a well-liked park in Tokyo. Aw, who’s Singaporean, has lived in Japan for 13 years.

Source: Wanping Aw

A self-described “Japanophile,” Ng mentioned the nation strikes the “sweet spot” between the acquainted and the unknown.

He mentioned Japan’s security, cleanliness and professionalism are like that of Singapore, as is the tradition’s adherence to social guidelines for the collective good.

“The trains aren’t going on strike while you’re rushing back from a day trip,” he mentioned.  “We feel comfortable operating in that structure. It’s familiar to how we live here, probably why most Singaporeans like Switzerland too.”

The meals can be acquainted — rice-based with components like fish, pork and tofu — nevertheless it “branches off from there in a myriad of fascinating directions.”

Alex Ng mentioned most Singaporeans benefit from the intricacies of Japanese tradition. “It’s cathartic and inspiring to experience it.”

Source: Alex Ng

He mentioned he additionally appreciates the spiritual variations between the 2 nations.

“We’re fortunate to have a range of religions here in Singapore,” he mentioned. But “Shintoism, which informs much of Japanese life and culture — especially their architecture, aesthetics, cultivation and upkeep of natural spaces — is fairly different from what we grew up around.”

And the cherry blossoms? “Hundreds of years were spent cultivating tens of thousands of cherry blossom trees … for a few weeks of vibrant festivities every year.”

“I’ve yet to tire of the spectacle,” he mentioned.

Confusion abounds

Singapore is considered one of greater than 100 nations and territories marked “blue” in Japan’s color-coded entrance classification system.

Travelers from these locations should not required to take a Covid-19 check or quarantine on arrival, or be vaccinated to enter. Visas and pre-flight Covid-19 PCR assessments are required although, in accordance to the web site for the Embassy of Japan in Singapore.

But the necessities past this have left many vacationers confused, mentioned Aw.

This is particularly true of the rule permitting vacationers to enter “only when a travel agency among others organizing the trip serves as the receiving organization of the entrants,” as said by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Websites like these use “language that talks in loops,” mentioned Aw.

Everyone is confused and careworn concerning the visa software course of.

“And this misunderstanding is escalated with the fact that the Japanese embassies are using the word — package tour,” she mentioned. This conjures up photographs of “30 to 40 strangers in a big bus, going on a fixed route with a pre-fixed itinerary.”

But this is not correct, she mentioned.

One particular person can e book a “package tour,” she mentioned, including that she’s organized three solo travel bookings — together with one from Singapore — since Japan’s borders opened in June.

The time period “pre-fixed itinerary” can be befuddling potential vacationers.

“Everyone seems to have the impression that they have to fix their itinerary down to the hour or minute … that it is difficult to come up with,” she mentioned. “But it is not as hard as it seems.”

Another drawback — “everyone is confused and stressed about the visa application process,” she mentioned.

To apply for a vacationer visa, vacationers want to plan an itinerary and e book their flights and lodging earlier than she will be able to course of their “ERFS certificates,” she mentioned, referencing an approval doc that guests want earlier than they’ll apply for his or her visas.

Only Japanese firms can apply for the certificates, nevertheless vacationers can work by tour companies of their dwelling nations, who in flip work with their native companions in Japan, she mentioned.

Once an ERFS certificates is obtained, vacationers can apply for his or her visas, mentioned Aw.

Lastly, the chaperone

In addition to working with an company, worldwide vacationers should additionally travel with a chaperone “at all times,” mentioned Aw.

Guests should pay for the chaperone, who’s an worker of the travel company, mentioned Aw. But on the upside, chaperones can help with issues like restaurant reservations and practice schedules to make journeys run smoother, she mentioned.

A chaperoned journey is not a deal-breaker for Ng, nor are the remainder of Japan’s travel guidelines, he mentioned. However he mentioned he would most likely travel to Japan extra typically if the principles have been much less cumbersome.

For now, Ng mentioned he is optimistic.

“There’s a good chance that Japan relaxes restrictions further soon, given that elections are now over,” he mentioned.

Ng mentioned he is secured his flights and motels — however not his visa — on the belief that, come autumn, the principles could also be totally different.

Aw mentioned many different Singaporeans are doing the identical factor. They are planning, however pushing off the method to apply for his or her visas “for as long as they can,” she mentioned.

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