What is the ‘random trip’ craze and why is it so big in Japan?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Victoria Masterson, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • Random trips, where train and air companies offer tickets to randomly selected destinations, are becoming popular in Japan.
  • International tourist numbers to Japan dropped 73% in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.
  • Countries including India, Gambia and Thailand are finding new ways to diversify their tourism industries and make them more sustainable.

Let’s go anywhere.

Instead of deciding on a destination, travellers in Japan are leaving it to luck.

It’s a trend called ‘random trips’ that is taking off in Japan – and travel companies are encouraging it, to help revive travel after the COVID-19 slump.

Random-trip tickets

Japan’s railways are offering random trip tickets at big discounts.

Travellers on West Japan Railway (JR West) can use an app called ‘Saikoro Kippu,’ which randomly selects a destination for them out of seven stations in western Japan, according to the Japan Times newspaper.

The ¥5,000 ($35.61) random-trip ticket has a discount of between 45% and 83%, depending on the destination.

Random-trip tickets are also being offered in eastern Japan.

From December, travellers on East Japan Railway (JR East) will be able to buy a random trip package called ‘Dokokani Byun’. For ¥6,000 ($42.74), one of four destinations across three train lines with 47 stops will be randomly selected for them.

Airlines started the random-trip craze.

Japan Airlines started offering random trips in 2016 and Japanese budget airline Peach Aviation offered flight tickets to random destinations last summer.

Discover

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Reviving travel and tourism industries

Tourism was one of the worst-hit sectors when COVID-19 led to global travel restrictions.

In 2020, international tourist numbers to Japan dropped 73% from the year before to 390 million, according to a study in the official Journal of the International Association of Traffic and Safety Sciences.

Global tourism has rebounded in 2022, with a 182% increase in international tourism in the first three months of the year, the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer shows.

In May, Japan topped a World Economic Forum ranking of travel and tourism development in 117 countries. The Travel and Tourism Development Index 2021 looks at factors that are key to the sustainability and resilience of the travel and tourism industry as it grows. This includes safety and security, the business environment, international openness, transport infrastructure and environmental sustainability.

Travel innovation

Countries globally are looking to revive – and redesign – their travel and tourism industries after the damage of the pandemic.

On the Indonesian island of Bali, which typically receives 6 million international visitors a year, tourism businesses have a new focus on sustainability and reducing the impact of mass tourism, according to The i newspaper.

In India, campervanning is a travel trend being promoted across multiple states to revive tourism, finds the Guardian. Campsites and campervan-hire firms are popping up across India, the paper says.

In West Africa, Gambia has signed a $68 million grant funding deal with the World Bank to revive its tourism sector, according to Reuters. Key aims of the grant include supporting sustainable tourism, protecting Gambia’s Atlantic coastline from the impacts of climate change and developing different holiday experiences.

Thailand hopes to support the recovery of its travel and tourism sector by allowing international tourists to stay for longer, the Bangkok Post reports. Tourists from 18 territories will be able to double their ‘visa-on-arrival’ stay by up to 30 days, while travellers from more than 50 countries can now stay for up to 45 days, rather than up to 30 days previously.

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Developing travel and tourism

In its Travel and Tourism Development Index 2021, the World Economic Forum says the halt in international travel “gave some travellers, both leisure and business, a pause to consider the impact of their choices on climate and the environment”.

Governments and travel businesses have also had to reassess where they invest and how they mitigate risk and volatility of demand, the Forum adds – as well as how to respond to the changing expectations of customers.

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