MAJOR Japanese OTA Rakuten Travel has seen revenue for its Singapore affiliate shoot up by 55 per cent since it was set up in March last year as its sales and marketing hub for South-east Asia.
Yoshihisa Yamada, vice chairman, Rakuten Travel, said Singapore was a “fast-growing market” for Japanese inbound.
In 2012, the number of Japanese travellers heading to Singapore increased 6.6 per cent from 656,406 in 2011 to 700,000.
“Singapore is appealing especially to the younger Japanese travellers, who find it a fashionable and trendy city,” said Yamada, adding that the Japanese regard Marina Bay Sands as a must-see.
To further boost Japanese traffic into Singapore, Rakuten has been working with the Singapore Tourism Board since March to develop a web marketing campaign. The collaboration, which will be rolled out progressively, would allow the OTA to promote Singapore’s attractions in a more interactive manner. The company has also managed to break growth records by dramatically increasing the number of accommodation providers available on Rakuten’s reservations platform.
Yamada shared that Rakuten was still firmly focused on nurturing outbound from Japan for now, but had also started to grow business from China.
In 2011, Rakuten bought ET Solution (Beijing), which operates Chinese online travel website ET Pass, to boost its portfolio of domestic travel services in China and services catering for Chinese travelling abroad. Since then, revenue made from ET Pass bookings has grown dramatically from under RMB50 million (US$8 million) to about RMB550 million in 2012.
Rakuten first branched out internationally in 2002, and has established offices in Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines, although Singapore will remain its main South-east Asian hub.