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May 19, 2011

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Japan tour sells out fast despite radiation fears

IT seems as though radiation is no match for low prices.

Despite the fear of radiation, a cheap package tour to Japan sold out in just one day.

The four-day trip was priced at about 3,000 yuan (US$428) and included a stop in Osaka, which is about 600 kilometers from the area hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami in March. A nuclear plant was damaged in the disaster, leading to radiation contamination in parts of northeastern Japan.

The first group of travelers will set out from Shanghai tomorrow.

Another group of 180 Chinese tourists will take a chartered plane from Shanghai to Japan on June 2. They will stop in Osaka, Kobe and Kagawa, according to a spokesperson with the Spring and Autumn International Travel Agency.

The package prices were about 30 to 50 percent lower than that before the disaster. Travel agencies said their Japanese counterparts as well as air companies offered favorable prices.

He Zhaolai, a retiree from Shanghai's Yangpu District, plans to take a trip to Japan with his wife in late June.

"I've learned that areas around Osaka were scarcely affected by the quake. It's worth going in June, when the weather is nicer. The price for the trip is also quite good," he said.

Most Japan tours generally cover places not damaged by the tsunami, earthquake or nuclear crisis. These areas include Hokkaido, Okinawa and Osaka. But travel agencies plan to expand the destinations this summer, adding Tokyo, Kobe and Kyushu packages.

Insiders said Tokyo is the key to fully restoring Japan-bound tourism.

"Tokyo is relatively close to Fukushima (where the damaged nuclear plant it), thus people may have more fears about going there," said Sun Biao, manager of the Japan and South Korea department at Shanghai Airlines International Travel Service Co Ltd.


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