Americans are flocking to Japan in droves, thanks to the strong greenback that makes everything seem 15% cheaper than last year.

Thanks to the strong U.S. dollar, Japan feels 35% cheaper than five years ago.

The U.S. dollar is going strong relative to many foreign currencies right now, which translates to international travel bargains for savvy shoppers. One of the easiest way for American travelers to grab a “deal” on an overseas trip is to choose a destination where the comparatively strong dollar delivers a built-in automatic discount for on-the-ground costs like hotels, dining and attractions.

Right now, a trip to many countries in Asia is easier on the wallet than in recent years. Is Bangkok or Phuket on your bucket list? The dollar buys 8.5% more Thai baht than a year ago. The greenback also buys 8.5% more Vietnamese dong and Indonesian rupiah, 6.2% more Malaysian ringgit and 5% more Taiwan dollars.

But far and away the Asian currency most impacted by the strong U.S. economy is the Japanese yen. Today one U.S. dollar buys 156.36 yen, 15% more than one year ago, and an eye-popping 43% more than five years ago.

The weak yen has helped propel Japan to be the most popular destination in Asia. In March 2024, the number of visitors to Japan exceeded three million foreign tourists in a single month for the first time ever, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO). That was 69.5% more than the same month the previous year and 11.6% more compared to March 2019.

While the lion’s share of those visitors came from neighboring Asian countries, American travelers are also getting the memo. In March, a record 290,100 Americans visited Japan in a single month—a 42% jump year over year and a 64% increase compared to the same month in 2019.

Unsurprisingly, the weaker yen has goosed spending by vacationers whose money goes further than in decades. Foreign visitors to Japan spent 1.75 trillion yen ($11.2 billion) in the January to March period, according to data from the JNTO. That’s an increase of 52% compared to pre-pandemic 2019.

Japan is now so popular that it grabs 29% of all U.S.-based searches for trips to Asia and 8% of all international searches for the summer this year, according to the airfare-tracking site Hopper.

That huge demand has kept airfares ticking upward. For May departures, tickets from the U.S. to Japan are averaging $1,281 per ticket, up 4% from this time last year. Flights this summer are averaging $1,379 per ticket, up 2% from last year and up 26% from this time in 2019, according to Hopper data.

Meanwhile, additional supply is keeping airfare inflation in check as U.S. and Japanese airlines ramp up service between the two countries. Today about 60 flights leave the U.S. for Japan every day, 6% less than before the pandemic. Still, that’s a big improvement over this time last year, when only 49 daily flights were departing to Japanese destinations.

From June to August, carriers will be flying 9% more seats than last summer. And by midsummer, the market between the US and Japan will be nearly restored to pre-pandemic capacity.

Four U.S. airlines currently fly to Japan: United Airlines, with 19% share of the seats; Delta Air Lines, with 10%; and Hawaiian Airlines and American Airlines, each with 7% share of capacity. (Three Japanese airlines—Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Zipair—make up over half of all scheduled seats.)

Hopper data shows that 92% of U.S. travelers planning trips to Japan want to fly into Tokyo, but a finite number of flights are allowed in and out of Haneda airport. The Japanese government determines how many slots to make available to U.S. carriers, which need to apply to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for the right to a route.

Last year, United Airlines and American Airlines applied to DOT to launch nonstop U.S.-to-Tokyo flights. United had wanted a new nonstop from Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) to Haneda. Instead, it was awarded a new Guam-to-Tokyo route, which it launched on May 1, joining United’s other Tokyo-bound flights from Newark, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, Washington D.C. and other cities.

American Airlines’ newest route to Japan will launch on June 28. Flights from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Tokyo will be the carrier’s fourth daily nonstop to Haneda, joining existing service from Dallas, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities.

By admin