The Yomiuri ShimbunThis year’s 10-day Golden Week holiday will likely bring significant benefits not only to the tourism and leisure industries but also to the retail industry, due to the celebratory mood over the change of era. However, many factories will suspend operations for nearly 10 days, prompting concern over the negative effects that may result.
Leading travel agency JTB Corp. estimates 24.67 million people will travel abroad or within Japan for two or more days during the Golden Week period. This is the largest number since the company began conducting surveys in 1969.
In addition to popular travel destinations such as Hawaii and South Korea, many people this year choose locations farther away in Europe and the United States, according to JTB.
A Kichijoji outlet of the travel agency KNT Co. in Musashino, Tokyo, continued to receive calls Friday asking whether it was possible to reserve travel packages. “Overseas travel packages have sold particularly well, and their sales likely will triple from last year,” an official at the outlet said with a smile.
More people likely will flock to leisure facilities than the average year. Universal Studios Japan in Osaka set the price for a one-day pass for an adult at ¥8,900 on eight days of the 10-day period, the highest price since USJ introduced a system in January to vary ticket prices according to how crowded it is.
Despite the high price tag, the theme park has received a considerable number of reservations.
The retail industry expects the celebratory mood will provide great business opportunities. The Matsuya Ginza department store in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, plans to open its doors at 10 a.m. on May 1 with fanfare by trumpets and offering free sake.
The department store expects a 20 percent year-on-year increase in sales during the Golden Week holiday period.
In anticipation of the demand at home and on trips back to family homes, Kirin Brewery Co. will increase the production and shipment of its core product Kirin Ichiban Shibori beer in late April by 70 percent from the previous year.
In contrast, many manufacturers will stop operations at their factories for many days. Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. will close their plants on the first nine days of the holiday period and re-start them on the final day, May 6.
Traffic jams on expressways during the holidays are expected to affect trucking operations. Yamato Transport Co. has announced possible delivery delays in certain areas.
Non-regular employees are increasingly concerned about lower income because the number of working days will decrease. A 35-year-old woman working at a municipal government in Tokyo as a non-regular employee lamented: “Some of my non-regular coworkers are usually saying they want to work overtime. The only people who are happy with the 10 consecutive holidays are those who get fixed monthly salaries.”
The 10-day Golden Week holiday period is expected to produce more negative effects than positive ones, as stagnated production activities such as suspended plant operations are expected to outweigh the increasing numbers of travelers and leisure guests.
According to an estimate by Taro Saito of the NLI Research Institute, this year’s Golden Week period could reduce gross domestic product for the second quarter of 2019 by 0.4 percent.
“The slowdown in economic activities due to the 10 consecutive holidays will be temporary, but we can’t expect the holidays to bolster the economy,” Saito said.
Affect on health, education
The medical, nursing care and education industries are also busy preparing for the unprecedented 10-day holiday.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry’s website has a page with links to prefectural websites regarding medical institutions that will open during the holiday. In January, the ministry requested prefectural governments to create systems in accordance with their local situations. As of Saturday, there were links to 37 prefectures, with the remaining areas soon to come.
According to the ministry, most prefectures likely establish systems on par with those during the regular Golden Week holiday. In late March, the ministry also submitted a request to local governments and those concerned with the nursing care business to set up systems that will not inconvenience those who are receiving services during the long holiday.
In order to secure enough school hours at elementary and junior high schools, many local governments are shortening vacation days, such as during the long summer break.
Meanwhile, many universities will hold classes during the 10-day holiday.
Nanzan University in Nagoya will have classes over seven of the days. In Kyoto, Ryukoku University will hold classes on six of the days, while Ritsumeikan University will only have classes on three days. In Tokyo, International Christian University and Rikkyo University will hold classes over five days, while Gakushuin University and some departments at Chuo University will have four days of classes.
“It’s a bit depressing to have to take classes when everyone else in society is excitedly talking about some events or trips during their 10-day holiday,” said a senior at Rikkyo University.
Taking classes in summer is usually not an option for university students as they are busy with job-hunting or internships.
“We have no option but to hold classes during the lengthy holiday,” a Nanzan University official said.