About 49% of Singaporeans say they are considering going to Japan for their next holiday abroad, according to market research firm YouGov.
Interest may be even higher among young citizens. About 68% of Singaporeans aged 16 to 24 said they were considering going to Japan for their “next holiday”, compared with 37% among those aged 55 and over, according to a study published in May. .
Japan is the top choice among survey respondents with good margins, with the second choice, Taiwan, garnering interest from 39% of those surveyed. According to the results, about 26% said they were interested in vacationing in Malaysia, but this may have been influenced by the survey question, which asked specifically about “by air” travel plans.
However, Wanping Aw, CEO of Tokudaw travel agency based in Tokyo Her company has seen massive growth in business after Japan reopened its borders in June – with 50% of inquiries and bookings coming from Singapore, she said.
Aw said Japan has always been a popular destination for Singaporeans, especially for those looking to change seasons.
Spring and winter are two “peak seasons” for visitors from Singapore, she said: “They love cherry blossoms and snow.”
Singaporean businessman Alex Ng said he is planning a trip to Japan this fall.
Wanping Aw at Shinjuku Gyoen, a famous park in Tokyo. Aw, a Singaporean, has lived in Japan for 13 years.
Source: Wanping Aw
Self-identified as “Japanophile,” Ng said the country hits a “sweet spot” between the familiar and the unknown.
He said Japan’s safety, cleanliness and professionalism are similar to Singapore’s, as is the culture of adhering to social rules for the sake of collective good.
“Trains won’t strike while you’re rushing back from a day trip,” he said. “We feel comfortable operating in that structure. It’s familiar with the way we live here, which is probably why most Singaporeans also like Switzerland.”
The dish is also familiar – made of rice with ingredients like fish, pork and tofu – but it “split from there in a myriad of intriguing directions.”
Alex Ng said most Singaporeans enjoy the subtleties of Japanese culture. “It’s fascinating and inspiring to experience it.”
Source: Alex Ng
He said he also appreciates the religious differences between the two countries.
“We are fortunate to have a wide range of religions in Singapore,” he said. But “Shinto, which provides a lot of information about Japanese life and culture – especially their architecture, aesthetics, cultivation and maintenance of natural spaces – is completely different from what we grew up around.”
And cherry blossoms? “Hundreds of years have been spent planting tens of thousands of cherry blossom trees … in a few weeks of vibrant festivals each year.”
“I still haven’t gotten tired of the sight,” he said.
Singapore is one of more than 100 countries and territories marked “blue” in Japan color coded entrance grading system.
Visitors from these places are not required to undergo a Covid-19 test or quarantine upon arrival, or be vaccinated for entry. Even so, a visa and a Covid-19 PCR test are required before the flight, according to website for the Japanese Embassy in Singapore.
But these excessive requirements have confused many travelers, Aw said.
This is especially true of the rule that allows tourists to enter “only if one travel agency among others organizing the trip acts as the receiving organization for the participants”, as stated. Japanese foreign ministry.
Sites like this use “looping language,” Aw said.
“And this misunderstanding is escalating with the fact that Japanese embassies are using the word – package tour,” she said. This conjures up the image of “30 to 40 strangers on a big bus, traveling on a fixed route with a predetermined itinerary.”
But this is not accurate, she said.
One can book a “package tour”, she said, adding that she has arranged three solo travel bookings – including one from Singapore – since the Japanese border open in June.
The term “pre-fixed itinerary” is also surprising potential travelers.
“People seem to have the impression that they have to fix their journey down to the hour or the minute … hard to come up with,” she said. “But it’s not as hard as it seems.”
Another problem – “everyone is confused and stressed about the visa process,” she said.
To apply for a tourist visa, travelers need to plan their itinerary and book their flights and accommodation before she can process the “ERFS certificate,” she said, referring to the approval document the traveler received. guests need before they can apply for a visa.
Only Japanese companies can apply for this certificate, however, travelers can work through tour operators in their home country who will work with their local partners in Japan Ban, she said.
After obtaining the ERFS certificate, travelers can apply for their visas, Aw said.
In addition to working with a company, international travelers must also travel with a chaperone “at all times,” Aw said.
Aw said, visitors have to pay for the accompanying person, who is an employee of the travel company. But on the plus side, chaperones can assist with things like restaurant reservations and train schedules to help make trips go more smoothly, she said.
A chaperone trip, he said, is not a deal-breaker for Ng, nor the rest of Japan’s travel rules. However, he said he would probably come to Japan more often if the rules were less cumbersome.
For now, Ng said he is optimistic.
“There is a good chance that Japan will ease restrictions further soon, provided that the election is over“he said.
Ng said he had secured his flights and hotels – but not his visa – on the assumption that, by the fall, the rules might be different.
Aw said many other Singaporeans are doing the same. They are planning, but still pushing back their visa process “as long as they can,” she said.