12000 Japanese call off Taiwan trips


TAIPEI, Taiwan — As many as 12,000 Japanese tourists have canceled their trips to Taiwan from now until the end of May due to the earthquake in their country, said Lai Se-chen, head of Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau, yesterday.

The quake will definitely affect Taiwan’s tourism industry, she said while attending a hearing of the Transportation Committee of the Legislative Yuan.

Based on data collected by travel agencies focusing on Taiwan tours for the Japanese, some 12,000 Japanese travelers have canceled their reservations from now until the end of May, Lai said, adding that whether this will impact the government’s plan to attract 6.5 million tourists to Taiwan this year remains to be seen.

As for outbound travelers to Japan, Lai said local travel agencies and airlines have already relaxed their refund policies. From now to Apr. 10, those traveling to places with a gray-color travel alert will get full refunds back, minus certain necessary expenses as well as a 5 percent handling fee.

Usually, during this time of the year, about 2,000 Taiwanese tourists leave for Japan each day on “hanami,” or cherry-blossom viewing, trips. Yet now, no groups are allowed to travel to places with the highest-level red-color travel alert, Lai said. At the same time, for groups traveling to places with a gray-color travel alert, about 60 percent of them have been canceled, she said.

The government will readjust its marketing strategy by asking people to consider other markets, such as Korea, Hong Kong, Macau and Southeast Asia, for travel, she said.