Barcelona-based eDreams has launched in Japan, describing the move as "a major step forward in [its] internationalization strategy."
In response to emailed questions, eDreams director of business development Pablo de Porcioles explains:
"Japan is not only the world's third economic power, but also the largest travel market in the Asia-Pacific and the second largest worldwide. The potential of Japan has been a key factor in the decision to go ahead with this launch. Japan has a large presence in different sectors thanks to its industrial capacity, its commercial strength and financial markets."
According to de Porcioles, online travel accounted for 38% of the Japanese markets in 2014.
However, 83% of the offline market is controlled by five agencies, and generally speaking online travel agents are relatively new entrants.
"Our biggest challenge currently is to gain market share both from Japanese travel agencies and well established US competitors already present in the country."
It hopes that a focus on domestic and low-cost flights will help it gain share from competitors. de Porcioles referred to JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) data which shows that domestic flights account for 80% of the market and are growing,
"so we think there is also much room for growth in the relatively new low-cost flight segment."
A dedicated mobile offering for Japan is also coming soon.
"Mobile is one of the most important segments for the Japanese market. About 45% of Japanese people browse the internet on their mobile even if they have a laptop or a computer at home."
eDreams' APAC portfolio also covers Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and Australia, where its regional office is based.