Travel agency JTB Corp. is set to launch English-language bus tours covering popular sightseeing spots — along with attractions difficult to reach by public transportation.
The tours, set to begin in April, will cover popular sightseeing destinations including the so-called golden route connecting Tokyo, Mount Fuji and Kyoto. Also planned are trips around Hokkaido, Tohoku, Chugoku and Kyushu.
JTB hopes the tours will help increase foreign visitors who stay for longer periods.
The travel packages will be sold in some 20 countries and regions, mainly in Southeast Asian and Western countries. The tours will use buses that can each accommodate up to 40 participants. Partial bookings will be possible.
A tour featuring the golden route takes a maximum of 12 days, costing about $3,500 per person, including accommodation fees.
In the tour, the bus will depart Tokyo and visit Mount Fuji, Kyoto and Nara before moving to the Mount Koya area, a major Buddhist site in Wakayama Prefecture. The tour will then head for spots along the Seto Inland Sea before returning to Tokyo via Nagano.
JTB will offer affiliated hotels and inns to accommodate tour participants.
The travel agency plans to operate more than 100 such wide-area trips per year.
In Europe, cross-border bus tours are gaining popularity. JTB hopes to gain operational know-how from major Spanish travel agency Europa Mundo Vacaciones SL, in which JTB holds a stake.
JTB also hopes to include obscure but attractive tourist destinations that are far from airports and stations and difficult to reach using public transport.
Since May 2016, JTB has conducted domestic bus tours for Europa Mundo customers mainly from Spanish-speaking countries.
JTB decided to launch similar tours for English-speaking customers after receiving positive feedback, mainly from middle-aged participants of the tours for Europa Mundo customers.