About 49% of Singaporeans say they are considering Japan for their next holiday abroad, according to market research firm YouGov.
Younger citizens may be even more interested. According to research published in May, 68% of Singaporeans aged 16 to 24 indicated they were considering Japan for their “next holiday”, compared to 37% of those aged 55 and over.
Japan was the top choice among survey respondents by a good margin, with the second choice, Taiwan, gaining interest from 39% of those surveyed. According to the results, some 26% expressed interest in vacationing in Malaysia, but this may have been influenced by the survey question, which specifically asked about travel plans “by air”.
Still, Wanping Au, CEO Tokyo-based travel agency Tokudaw After Japan reopened its borders in June, her company saw a big boost in business – 50% of inquiries and bookings came from Singapore, she said.
Japan has always been a popular destination for Singaporeans, Oh said, especially those looking for a change of season.
Spring and winter are the two “peak seasons” for Singaporean travelers, she said: “They love cherry blossoms and snow.”
Singapore businessman Alex Ng said he is planning a trip to Japan this autumn.
Wanping O at Shinjuku Gyoen, a popular park in Tokyo. O, who is from Singapore, has lived in Japan for 13 years.
Source: Wanping O
A self-described “Japanophile,” Ng said the country is a “sweet spot” between the familiar and the unknown.
He said Japan’s safety, cleanliness and professionalism are similar to Singapore’s, as the culture adheres to social norms for the collective good.
“Trains don’t go on strike when you’re coming back from a day trip,” he said. “We feel comfortable working in that structure. It’s familiar to how we live here, maybe even most Singaporeans like Switzerland.”
The food is also familiar — rice-based, with ingredients like fish, pork and tofu — but they “go off in countless fascinating directions.”
Alex Ng said most Singaporeans enjoy the intricacies of Japanese culture. “It’s cathartic and inspiring to experience that.”
Source: Alex Ng
I also appreciate the religious differences between the two countries, he said.
“We are lucky to have many religions here in Singapore,” he said. But “Shintoism, which informs much of Japanese life and culture—especially their architecture, aesthetics, cultivation, and maintenance of natural spaces—is very different from what we grew up around.”
And cherry blossoms? “Hundreds of years were spent cultivating thousands of cherry blossom trees … for a few weeks of spirited celebration each year.”
“I’m not tired of the spectacle yet,” he said.
Singapore is one of more than 100 countries and territories marked “blue” in Japan A color-coded entry classification system.
Travelers arriving from those destinations are not required to undergo a Covid-19 test or quarantine upon arrival or be vaccinated for entry. Visa and pre-flight Covid-19 PCR tests are required Website For the Embassy of Japan in Singapore.
But requirements beyond this have left many travelers confused, O said.
This is especially true of the rule allowing entry of tourists, “only when the travel agency organizing the tour acts as the receiving entity of the entrants.” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.
Websites like these use “language that speaks in a loop”.
“And there’s a growing misconception that Japanese embassies are using the term package tour,” she said. It conjures up images of “30 to 40 strangers in a big bus, traveling a fixed route with a pre-fixed itinerary”.
But this is not accurate, she said.
A person can book a “package tour”, she said, adding that she has arranged three solo travel bookings – including one in Singapore – since Japan’s borders opened in June.
The term “pre-fixed itinerary” is confusing even to potential travelers.
“Everyone thinks they have to plan their itinerary down to the hour or the minute … that it’s hard to come up with,” she said. “But it’s not as hard as it looks.”
Another problem — “Everyone is confused and stressed about the visa application process,” she said.
To apply for tourist visas, travelers must plan travel and book their flights and accommodation before processing their “ERFS certificates,” she said, referring to the approval documents visitors need before applying for their visas.
Only Japanese companies can apply for certification, although travelers can work through tour agencies in their countries, which work with their local partners in Japan, she said.
Once the ERFS certificate is received, travelers can apply for their visas, Aw said.
In addition to working with an agency, international travelers must “always travel with a chaperone,” Aw said.
Guests must pay for a chaperone, who is a travel agency employee, O said. But on the upside, chaperones can help with things like restaurant reservations and train schedules to make trips run smoothly, she said.
A protective trip isn’t a deal-breaker for NG, he said, nor are the rest of Japan’s travel regulations. However he said he might travel to Japan more often if the rules were less onerous.
For now, Ng said he is optimistic.
“There is a good chance that Japan will soon relax the restrictions The elections are now over,” he said.
Ng said he has secured his flights and hotels – but not his visa – assuming that, come autumn, the rules may be different.
O said many other Singaporeans are doing the same. They are making plans, but are postponing their visa application process “as long as possible,” she said.