Severely weakened yen and pent up travel demand could drive tourism boom, says financial analyst Peter Tasker.

Japan financial commentator and analyst Peter Tasker has warned that the “mother of all tourism booms” could be on its way once Japan reopens its borders to international tourists and the world returns to a state resembling a pre-Covid normal. In an article published in Nikkei Asia, Tasker considers the consequences of the plummeting value of the yen which, when taking comparative rates of inflation into account, “has halved in value against the dollar since 1995, taking it back to levels not seen since the early 1970s.”

Tasker writes:

“Have you heard about the great Japanese discount market that offers exclusive deals to foreigners? It is worth taking a look at the bargains on offer. Prices have been slashed by 50% across the board. Where is it located, you ask? Every town and city across the country [in Japan].

“As a result, Japanese products and services have become extraordinarily cheap relative to their American equivalents, as have salaries, rents and many asset prices.”

“Prices have been slashed by 50% across the board.”

In truth, talk of a tourism boom in Japan comes as no surprise to us. In a recent survey of Ski Asia readers, 95% told us they would visit Japan during the 2022/23 season if border restrictions allowed. Articles concerning Japan’s prospective reopening have been amongst the most popular on the site for months, as every morsel of information – which have been in scarce supply – is eagerly consumed.

Now, with a severely weakened yen, heightened demand meets unprecedented affordability. This would usually be a recipe for long lift lines and crowded hotels, but there is a final ingredient missing: a clear roadmap for the country’s reopening to tourists.

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Bargains may not last long

However, those waiting for clarity on a reopening could miss a bargain, Tasker warns.

“It is also possible that there could be a sharp reversal in the currency markets at any time. After all, this is not a new phenomenon”, he explains.

“In real inflation-adjusted terms, the yen has been on a zigzag downward path for the past 27 years. Usually, the currencies of countries with low inflation are stronger than those with high inflation, yet the latest reading for CPI inflation in Japan is 0.9% against 7.9% in the U.S. That is the largest differential since 1980.”

“So be warned. If you are thinking of patronizing the great Japanese discount store, do not take too long to make your mind up. The bargains will not be there forever.”

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