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April 2, 2011

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Tourism hit by Japan's troubles

SHANGHAI'S tourism market had been badly hit by the March 11 disasters that struck Japan, local travel agencies said yesterday.

The earthquake and tsunami, plus the ongoing struggle to stop radiation leaking from a stricken nuclear plant, have resulted in most sightseeing groups from Japan canceling trips to the city.

Only a small number of business groups are still coming to Shanghai as scheduled.

"After the earthquake, tourist numbers from Japan fell by 60 to 70 percent compared to March last year," said Zhang Qi, an official with the Japan Inbound Department of Jinjiang International Travel Service Co Ltd.

Zhang said Japanese are reluctant to leave their country on holiday breaks while their homeland is gripped by a crisis.

The market will maintain slack until the situation stabilizes at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, according to Zhang.

"I have no idea when the market will pick up as the nuclear crisis in Japan is ongoing," said Zhang.

The peak season for Japanese tourists coming to Shanghai is usually May. Tour agencies should have an idea of the situation by April 10.

"Basically, we're not optimistic," Zhang said.

Shanghai Airline International Travel Service Co Ltd reported that some small agencies had dismissed their Japan business departments.

The Japan-bound tourism market is also badly affected. "No one is willing to go to Japan now," Wang Yan, general manager of the travel company, said yesterday.


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