After assessing the situation in Japan, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has reaffirmed its belief 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, despite estimates from the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) outbound travel from Japan has dropped by around 3.6 per cent 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.
Drop in Arrivals
Nevertheless, PATA statistics show that foreign arrivals into Japan have declined 32 per cent 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 29th, 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 per cent 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.
On June 1st, PATA presented its Japan Appeal support package worth tens of thousands of dollars to the PATA Japan Chapter.
The package comprised a one million yen (US$12,318) cheque and extensive in-kind support to help Japan’s travel industry members to attend PATA Travel Mart in New Delhi in September.
Bill Calderwood, PATA interim chief executive said: “With government support, collaboration between the public and private sector and the support of the international tourism community, the Japan tourism industry has worked hard to turn things around. PATA encourages the world to fully engage with Japan as a travel destination and market once again.”
Also in Asia today, City.Mobi is celebrating the success of its new guide to tokyo.
City.Mobi offers the most comprehensive mobile travel guides available, with over 800 cities in 200 countries listed. Each is developed by the City.Mobi team to combine into a single global travel directory.
Tokyo.Mobi is the latest in this illustrious line up, offering click to call functionality – which means no scribbling down telephone numbers.
Most entries are also linked to websites where users can quickly access more detailed information if needed.
Other key features include information on accommodation, restaurants, attractions, entertainment, nightlife, shopping, and transport.
City.Mobi guides include user reviews and traveller utilities such as a translation guide, currency converter, news and local weather guide.