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Japan Is Safe And Open For Business

After assessing the situation in Japan, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has reaffirmed that the vast majority of the country is safe to travel to. Nearly all the country is operating as normal, with the exception of the locally impacted tsunami area in the vicinity around the Fukushima nuclear plants.

PATA’s Strategic Intelligence Centre notes that inbound and outbound travel has also shown encouraging recovery signs.

The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) estimates that outbound travel from Japan has dropped by around 3.6% over the last five months. However, a number of destinations in the Asia Pacific region are defying the odds and actually boosting their market share of Japanese arrivals. Even with this decline in outbound traffic Japan has generated close to 6.4-million departures in the five months to May 2011.

Countries that have boosted their market share of Japanese travellers include Thailand, Sri Lanka, Palau and Singapore. All have expanded their inbound counts from Japan with each destination showing double-digit growth rates in May relative to the corresponding period last year. Initial figures for June show this momentum continuing in Thailand, Nepal, Chile and Vietnam. Year-to-date, some 15 destinations in Asia Pacific have recorded increased Japanese arrivals, with nine of those destinations showing double-digit gains.

There appears to be some small signs of recovery in visitors travelling to Japan. The estimated foreign inbound figure for Japan in May was 358,000, up from 295,800 in April. Many Asian source markets such as Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Singapore produced better performances in May.

Nevertheless, PATA statistics show that foreign arrivals into Japan have declined 32% to May this year, a sharp reversal of the positive growth trend seen in January and February.

According to the JNTO, with the full re-opening of the Tohoku bullet train on April 29, the situation for visitors is virtually back to normal in all of Japan, including most of Tohoku region, the area in northeast Japan where the earthquake and tsunami had most impact. Trains and subways in Tokyo and its surrounding areas are operating under a near normal schedule. However, in an effort to reduce consumption of electricity, some train lines may be operating at lower frequencies.

On the aviation front, there was a significant drop in demand for flights to Japan after the crisis. While flights into Tokyo have been adjusted due to lessened demand, there are still ample options. The new direct route between New York and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport will resume this summer.

According to UBM Aviation, the scheduled international air seat capacity to and from Japan is listed as around 6.095-million for July 2011, some 2.5% behind that of July 2010 but virtually identical to the capacity available in July 2009.

All airports in Japan are open and in operation. Sendai Airport has also re-opened with flights to and from Haneda (Tokyo), Itami (Osaka), New Chitose (Sapporo) and Centrair (Nagoya).

Most tourist attractions, tourism facilities and transportation services are operating as usual in Tokyo and all areas outside of the tsunami impacted locations.

Nobutaka Ishikure, PATA Life Member and PATA Foundation Trustee said: “Four months after 3/11 we are getting along with ordinary daily life in Tokyo and most of Japan. Visitors should come to Japan as before. The Japanese will soon travel overseas in numbers again.”