Pricey Japan packages set to go on sale

Bangkok Post -- May 31
Outbound tour operators in Thailand are preparing to offer Japan packages next month, with prices expected to be 30-40% more expensive than those sold prior to the pandemic, mainly because of visa requirements, Covid-19 testing and soaring operational costs.

Charoen Wangananont, president of the Thai Travel Agents Association, said the Japan National Tourism Organisation had issued entry regulations for tour groups, which will be the first leisure travellers allowed into the country for over two years, starting from June 10.

"We still have to see how Thai customers respond to the rule as there are requirements which mandate them to pay more and engage with additional document processing, including a visa fee of 2,000 baht which had been exempted before the pandemic. Tourists also have to apply for a visa by themselves and take an RT-PCR test 72 hours before arrival, which altogether would cost around 5,000 baht," he said.Each group must include no more than 10 people and must travel under escort from a tour guide throughout the whole journey, which will make the package pricier as tour companies have to offer a full-board tour that includes all meals.

With smaller groups, tour companies cannot benefit from economies of scale but have to raise the price on a per-head basis in order to maintain profit and match the increasing costs.

Visitors from Thailand, which is categorised as in the "blue" group, are exempt from quarantine and the RT-PCR test upon arrival. Only countries in the blue category can take part in the tour scheme.

Mr Charoen said tourists must also be vaccinated with three mRNA or viral vector shots, while inactivated vaccines are excluded from the list.

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