ARC and WTTC Agree: Japan Will Recover in 2012

After comparing more than 3 million air ticket transactions for travel from the United States to Japan, the volume remains below historical levels since the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011, ARC reports. But forward-looking departure data  - and new analysis by  the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) -  shows that this travel market is  poised for a recovery in 2012. 

ARC examined ticket transactions for U.S. air departures to Japan from Jan. 1, 2009 to Feb. 29, 2012. Among ARC's findings were:

    •    Ticket refunds as a percentage of total transactions spiked at 23.4 percent in March 2011 and 12.9 percent in April 2011 immediately after the natural disaster, compared to average refund rates (excluding these months) of 4.5 percent.
    •    After the earthquake and tsunami, ticket sales began to slip into April 2011, when transactions finished at 32 percent below 2010 and 38 percent below 2009 levels.
    •    For the remainder of 2011 following March, sales and departures have remained below both 2009 and 2010, but followed traditional seasonal trends seen throughout the examined time period.
    •    For January to February 2012, sales moved in an upward direction, surpassing 2009 levels by 3 percent and 7 percent respectively.
    •    Future departures from the United States to Japan for March through June 2012 seem to indicate a developing recovery: March and April 2012 departures are ahead of 2009, while May and June 2012 departures exceed all years for the same periods in 2009 through 2011.
“We’ve been closely following ticketing transactions to Japan since the tragic events in 2011 to see when the volume would return to its normal level,” said Chuck Thackston, managing director of data and analytics at ARC.

“Although we did not see that happen in the later part of last year, we are cautiously optimistic that recovery is beginning based on the first two months of this year. ARC will continue to monitor this trend as we move into the second fiscal quarter,” Thackston said.

ARC’s data and analytics department provides data and analytical services for a wide spectrum of customers ranging from airlines and travel organizations, to airline industry analysts. Visit

ARC's forecast for 2023 seems to track with a new report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), in its fourth and final report since the earthquake of  March 11, 2011.

While working with different data and an international perspective, the WTTC  forecast sees the full recovery of international tourism demand during the first half of 2012, having initially fallen 62 percent in April 2011.

According to WTTC, Japan’s Travel & Tourism industry is set to directly contribute JPY10,276 billion ($129 billion) in 2012, marginally above the JPY10,246 billion ($128.5 billion) in 2010. This followed a fall of 3.9 percent in 2011 due to the earthquake and tsunami.

David Scowsill, president & CEO of WTTC said: “Japan is the third largest Travel & Tourism economy in the world so its health is of crucial importance to our industry across the globe. Japan’s Travel & Tourism recovery has been much better than anyone could have anticipated 12 months ago. With help of a forceful marketing strategy, Japan is open and ready for business. Domestic travel recovery strongly last year and 2012 is forecast to be the year for full recovery of international visitors."


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