Sat, Apr 09, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Japan travel agency hopes to send more tourists to Taiwan

GRATITUDE:Japan’s HIS said it would like to bring 180,000 tourists to Taiwan this year as ‘repayment’ for kindness in the wake of Japan’s triple disasters

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

Japanese travel agents moved by Taiwan’s generosity in the wake of a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan last month are endeavoring to bring more Japanese tourists to “repay” the nation’s kindness.

The Tourism Bureau yesterday said it has signed an agreement with Japan’s H.I.S. Co (HIS), which brought 150,000 independent travelers from Japan last year, that the travel agency would seek to add 30,000 to that number this year.

“Taiwan contributed to disaster relief efforts by donating ¥10 billion [US$117.2 million],” HIS president Akira Hirabayashi told a press conference. “Our way of repaying your generosity will be to bring 180,000 Japanese tourists to Taiwan.”

In a presentation, Hirabayashi showed the draft of a newspaper advertisement to be released over the weekend, which aside from thanking Taiwan shows a list of resources donated from Taiwan to Japan.

Hirabayashi said HIS had offered a packaged tour deal for ¥40,000 to 20 Japanese tourists from the disaster-stricken prefectures. The cost covers flight tickets and hospitality and allows a tourist to stay in Taiwan for a month, he said.

Tourism Bureau Director General Janice Lai (賴瑟珍) said the bureau had worked with several travel agencies in Japan since 2008 as part of its plan to increase the number of international visitors.

CHIPPING IN

Lai said the bureau started meeting with airlines and representatives of the nation’s tourism industry last week to address the issues facing the Japanese tourism market following the earthquake.

She said the bureau had proposed raising funds to help rebuild Japan.

The bureau has already raised NT$17 million (US$586,000) from hoteliers, travel agencies and airliners. China Airlines contributed close to half the amount, with NT$8 million.

Lai said the bureau was scheduled to send the funds to Japan next month and encouraged hoteliers to consider offering rooms to visitors from the six affected prefectures along Japan’s northeast coast and allow them to stay in Taiwan for two weeks or a month free of charge.

LOCAL EXPERIENCE

The bureau would take the visitors on a one-day trip to areas heavily damaged by the 921 Earthquake in 1999 and let them see the results of the reconstruction, she said.

“We hope that they can regain hope and peace of mind by seeing the reconstructed areas,” Lai said.

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