Disaster to cost tourist industry NT$8 billion

The China Post news staff

The seismic disaster and subsequent nuclear leaks in Japan are expected to cost the tourist industry NT$8 billion in lost revenue as wary vacationers inundate travel agencies with cancellations and refund requests, business sources have reported.

The number of travelers in some tour groups has been reduced by 80 percent, and many individual travelers are also asking for their money back. This alone could cost the industry as much as NT$5 billion.

Taiwanese tourists bound for Japan’s Kanto region and Hokkaido in mid-March, April, and May are canceling their travel plans “en masse,” said Peng Hung-hsiang, chairman of the ROC Travel Quality Assurance Association’s (TQAA) Disputes Arbitration Committee.

The northern Japanese island of Hokkaido and the Kanto region, which includes the Greater Tokyo Area and encompasses Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa Prefectures, are Taiwanese tourists’ favorite destinations, especially during Japan’s cherry blossom season. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued its highest, red, level alerts against these areas on Tuesday. These regions are the preferred destinations for about 70 percent of Taiwanese travelers, while the rest of Japan attracts only about 30 percent, said Peng, who warned withdrawals also will cost the people who opt out. Each consumer will be hit by as much as NT$5,000 in cancellation and other fees, said Peng. According to another industry source, fewer Japanese tourists are expected to visit Taiwan this year, especially toward the end of April. According to the source, as many as 50,000 Japanese tourists visit the island in late April in a typical year, but their number will likely dwindle as their domestic problems deteriorate.