Thomas Cook (India) Ltd., India’s leading integrated travel and related financial services company, has witnessed a significant surge of 35% in bookings for its Cherry Blossom tours to Japan, ahead of the highly awaited Sakura Season.
With India’s new age travellers displaying increasing appetite for new, unique destinations and enriching experiences, Japan has been emerging strongly as a forerunner. Hence in a focussed initiative to tap into this underleveraged potential, Thomas Cook had launched a range of Japan Sakura tours across group escorted tours, customised programmes and luxury bespoke itineraries; and this year has seen significant uptake from metro cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru (growth of over 40%), as also mini metros/Tier cities like Visakhapatnam, Lucknow, Indore, Pune, Rajkot, Trichy, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Madurai, Mangalore, Ludhiana (growth of approx 50%).
With the famed Sakura/Cherry Blossom Season commencing in late January/February in Okinawa and proceeding across the archipelago towards Kyoto-Tokyo and culminating at Sapporo, demand from Indian travellers is transforming a traditional low travel season with unprecedented bookings.
Besides Japan, Korea and China are neighbouring destinations also renowned for cherry blossom viewing, and have been introduced by Thomas Cook as ‘add on’ tours- thus giving Indian consumers multiple destination options in a single tour.
Thomas Cook India’s data indicates demand across a range of consumers and the company has hence included unique experiences to appeal to distinctive segments: dining at the psychedelic Robot Restaurant amidst off-beat performances, a visit to Suzuka Circuit to enjoy its motorsport-themed rides, Japan’s popular anime culture tours or a unique Ninja experience at its Ninja village resonating with millennials; bar hopping at Nonbei Yokocho, a little street bursting with character or Japanese whisky trails covering its premium brands like Yamazaki/Hibiki that instantly appeal to India’s corporate travellers; Kabuki- a Japanese classical dance-drama for culture seekers; an unforgettable cooking experience rustling up Okonomiyaki/Takoyaki at Dotonbori street market; shopping and “onsen” hot spa tours for women travellers or indulging in local Japanese cuisine with sushi-sashimi-sake as a family experience.
Iconic locations in Japan that are becoming increasingly popular amongst Indian’s and include the Nara Deer Park in the first capital of Japan, Nara, the sole surviving building of the atomic explosion, the A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, and the Floating Garden Observatory in Osaka City. The famed Osaka Castle, known for its contribution to the unification of Japan, encompasses a garden that is also a popular cherry blossom viewing spot.
Rajeev Kale, President and Country Head, Leisure Travel, MICE, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd. said, “India’s growing appetite for new experiential destinations like Japan is a significant opportunity that we’ve leveraged via our Sakura tours, and we are already seeing an impressive 35% surge in bookings this year. What is interesting is that source markets include metro/mini metros like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune as well as Tier II cities. Uptake during March is transforming a traditional low-season into a high potential one and this is a trend that we plan to optimise to the maximum. We have partnered with Japan National Tourism Organisation and All Nippon Airways to create a unique “Japan Week” at Mumbai airport to enhance visibility and drive demand.”