Rugby fans head for Japan

LANGLEY, UK, 20 September 2019: Advanced flight bookings to Japan suggest rugby fans from the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Ireland will be out in force to support their teams during this year’s Rugby World Cup, according to research by Travelport.

With three teams from the United Kingdom (UK), England, Scotland and Wales, taking part in the Rugby World Cup, it’s no surprise to see the greatest increase in flight bookings to Japan during the tournament coming from the nation.

With New Zealand looking to add a third win to their back-to-back victories in 2015 and 2011 respectively, the All Blacks will see good support from the stands with the number of tourists heading to Japan up 70% year-on-year.

With the average traveller booking 134 days in advance, New Zealand fans were also the most forward-thinking travel planners, keen to secure their ticket early.

Commenting on the data, Travelport chief commercial 0fficer – travel partners, Jason Clarke said: “We know big sporting events often encourage people to travel, and there is nothing like being in the stadium watching your team compete on the world stage. It’s great to see the UK’s teams will be well supported, and that regular favourites like New Zealand, South Africa and Australia will also have fans filling the stadiums for their games”.

As part of its study, Travelport analysed booking data from all global distribution systems (GDS) to Japan, as of Thursday 12 September arriving from Wednesday 18 September to Monday 4 November. The company then ran comparable data for the same period last year to identify trends.

GDS are hi-tech reservation networks that allow travel agents, travel management companies and large corporations, among others, to search and book airline seats, hotel rooms, rental cars, and other travel-related items.

Additional bookings will have been made directly with airlines, which may or may not also have a GDS presence. Globally in 2018, Travelport alone processed 1 trillion transactions through its GDS. (Source: Travelport)

Rugby World Cup 2019

Countries participating in the tournament

Flight Booking Growth to Japan

(Wednesday 18 September to Monday 4 November vs previous year)



Vol. increase

% Change


United Kingdom




New Zealand








South Africa




















Western Samoa







This data is derived from Travelport’s interpretation of relevant MIDT data. It reflects bookings made through GDS only. Additional bookings will also have been made directly through airlines’ websites.