The number of Japanese holidaymakers traveling at home and abroad in the upcoming Golden Week holiday period is expected to reach 23.32 million, recovering to over 90 percent of the pre-COVID level, a major travel agency said.

With this year's Golden Week to be the first since Japan downgraded the legal status of the coronavirus to the same category as seasonal influenza, the figure represents a 1.8 percent increase from the previous year, JTB Corp. said.

But the number of travelers in the holiday period from April 25 and May 5 is likely to be short of the 24.94 million seen in 2019 before the pandemic, as travel demand has been dampened somewhat by rising prices and the weaker yen, which recently hit a 34-year low versus the U.S. dollar, JTB said.

An international flight departure lobby at Kansai airport in Osaka Prefecture is crowded with travelers on April 29, 2023, as Japan enters the Golden Week holiday season after the lifting of COVID-19 countermeasures. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Those going on domestic trips are estimated to remain nearly flat from the previous year at 22.8 million, with more people using public transportation including railways and airplanes, while those using vehicles are expected to edge down, it said.

Travelers going abroad are expected to jump to 520,000 from 310,000 the previous year, with destinations closer to Japan such as South Korea, Southeast Asia and Taiwan becoming popular on the back of inflation and the yen's fall, it said.

Spending per person for a domestic trip is set to average 36,100 yen ($235), up 3.7 percent from the previous year, and 269,000 yen for travel abroad, a rise of 4.7 percent, with the increases also attributed to rising prices and the weaker yen, the agency said.

JTB made the estimates based on an online survey in March targeting around 2,000 people who planned a trip of one night or more and other data including on personal consumption, transport and tourism.