Sat, Mar 19, 2011 - Page 2 News List

JAPAN DISASTER: Taiwanese cancel trips to Japan in favor of SE Asia

DESTINATION CHANGE:About 150,000 people had dropped their plans to visit Japan, with some choosing to fly to Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore or China instead

Staff Writer, with CNA

Tens of thousands of Taiwanese who were planning to travel to Japan in the next few weeks have decided to visit Southeast Asia instead, as Japan copes with the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and tsunami, local travel agencies said.

An estimated 50,000 people who had signed up for group tours to Japan for the cherry-blossom season have canceled their trips, Travel Agent Association of ROC, Taiwan chairman Yao Ta-kuan (姚大光) said.

In addition, about 100,000 independent travelers have canceled their trips to Japan, he added.

ALTERNATIVES

Lion Travel Service, one of the nation’s largest travel agencies, said 50 percent of its clients who had booked trips to Japan have decided to travel instead to Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.

Another 20 percent chose South Korea and 10 percent plan to go to China, the agency said.

Castle Travel Service, another travel agency, said it believed that many of the 1 million Taiwanese who travel to Japan every year would still travel abroad.

“Based on our conservative estimate, about a third of these people will go to Southeast Asia,” said the agency’s general manager, surnamed Wu (吳).

CHARTER FLIGHTS

To capitalize on what they see as a possible increase in the number of tourists to Southeast Asia, some travel agencies are negotiating with airline companies to arrange charter flights to Bangkok and Phuket Island in Thailand and Kuala Lumpur, Wu said.

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