Yen slide stokes Japan travel demand in HK

May 27, 2015 13:51
People line up to convert Hong Kong dollars into yen at a currency exchange shop in Central. The slide in the Japanese unit is prompting more people to make travel plans to the island nation. Photo: Bloomberg

With the yen hitting an eight-year low against the US dollar, currency exchange shops in Hong Kong have seen a spurt in business this week.

Taking advantage of the good exchange rate, several people are stocking up on the Japanese currency, hoping to use it during planned visits to the country, Apple Daily reported.

As Hong Kong's currency is pegged to the US dollar, the slide of the yen against the greenback has meant that one can now also get more yen for each Hong Kong dollar.  

An Apple Daily reporter saw a long line of people outside a foreign-exchange shop on Des Voeux Road in the Central district on Tuesday.

All the people in the queue had just one purpose: exchanging their Hong Kong dollars into yen, the reporter observed.

The yen plunged against the US dollar on Tuesday and broke through 123 to hit the lowest level since June 2007.

A person waiting to exchange Hong Kong dollars for yen told Apple Daily that he was stocking up as he plans to visit Japan.

If the yen drops further, he will convert even more currency, said the person, who claimed to have already exchanged tens of thousands of Hong Kong dollars for the Japanese unit.

Joseph Tung Yao-chung, executive director of the Travel Industry Council, said data from the Japanese government has shown that Hong Kong visitor traffic to Japan has gone up 30-40 percent so far this year compared to the same period in 2014.

Travel bookings on the route have been heavy, he said.

As many mainland tourists also travel to Japan by way of Hong Kong, airline seats have become tight, Tung said, adding that some carriers could hike fares.

A travel agency specializing in Japan tours said the cheaper yen is unlikely to bring down costs for tourists as hotel prices in Japan have been jacked up.

-- Contact us at [email protected]