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Japan and South Korea become popular holiday destinations for Kiwis – Flight Centre

Japan and South Korea are becoming increasingly popular destinations, and as we enter the countries’ cherry blossom season, bookings to both nations have skyrocketed.

Flight Centre bookings to both Japan and South Korea, departing between the 1st and 15th of April 2024 (typical cherry blossom season) have almost doubled when compared to the same period in the month prior.

Heidi Walker, General Manager Flight Centre New Zealand said the best time to see cherry blossoms in Japan and Korea is during their spring, particularly from the end of March to mid-April.

“If you’ve ever seen cherry blossoms in full bloom, you’ll know how much they add to the beauty of Japan and South Korea, they really are spectacular.

“Cherry blossom season is always the most popular time to travel to Japan and South Korea, though this year the interest has been unprecedented.”

According to Walker, South Korea and Japan have also grown in popularity overall.

Flight Centre bookings to Japan are up almost 65 per cent compared to the year prior.

“We’ve had some sharp airfares come to market, including a Flight Centre deal last year which could get you from Auckland to Tokyo return from $999. This was snapped up by many.

“The recent weaker yen has also made Japan a more favorable destination as you can essentially get more, ‘bang for your buck’ with the New Zealand dollar.”

Similarly, South Korea is taking off and Walker is predicting it will be the next hot destination, especially for the younger generations.

Contiki, one of New Zealand’s top tour companies for 18-35-year-olds has recently launched a new South Korea tour with its first having departed at the end of March.

“Demand was unreal – the first tour sold out in a matter of weeks and all other 2024 departures are already 75-100 per cent full.

“Contiki have added two more departure dates due to popular demand.”

Walker says although South Korea is often less known to Kiwis than Japan as a tourist destination, it’s not to be missed.

“South Korea’s capital of Seoul is essentially a less busy version of Tokyo with a perfect mix of tradition and modernity.

“Seeing the traditional Korean houses, ‘Hanoks’ in Seoul, sitting amongst incredible high-rises wrapped in digital billboards is an incredible juxtapositon.”

Walker says the growth in popularity for both destinations reflect the findings of a recent survey- Flight Centre commissioned through external research agency, YouGov.

The research found that 73 per cent of Kiwi Gen Z and Millennials thought destination uniqueness was an important factor when booking a holiday, this was second only to cost saving and exclusive deals (75 percent).

“Our younger customers are telling us that when it comes to long-haul travel, they don’t all want to do the usual UK/Europe OE. East Asia is a popular alternative or add-on.”

Walker adds, “There are many options for ways to explore South Korea and Japan, whether that be a tour, or self-guided travel, whatever your preference, your local travel agent will be able to help find an option to suit you.”


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