Foreign and Military Affairs

China key to Japan's tourism recovery: official

Updated: 2011-04-11 06:43


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BEIJING - China is important for Japan to recover its tourism, which has been greatly harmed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, a Japanese official said Sunday.

"Japanese tourism is facing an unprecedented crisis, but the smile of Chinese tourists can encourage the Japanese people," Hiroshi Mizohata, commissioner of Japan Tourism Agency, said at a press conference.

According to Mizohata, the number of tourists from the Chinese mainland travelling to Japan reached 1.41 million in 2010 and exceeded 200,000 in the first two months of 2011.

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But the number plummeted due to the March 11 quake and tsunamis that killed more than 12,000 people, with over 15,000 still missing.

Mizohata, the first high-level Japanese official visiting China after the quake, said China was his first overseas destination after the disaster because Chinese tourists were very important for the recovery of the Japanese tourism industry.

The traffic in Japan has returned to normal, with most international airports (excluding the Sendai airport), Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train) lines and highways reopened, Mizohata said.

"Radioactive material from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant is gradually spreading outside Japan into the global atmosphere, but at extremely low concentrations that do not present health or transportation safety hazards," the official quoted a statement issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization on April 1 as saying.

Japan suspended its plan to cut electricity beginning March 29, while the food security and the mineral water supply is guaranteed, Mizohata said.

Further, the Japan National Tourism Organization will enhance contacts with the Japanese embassy in China to inform Chinese tourists how they might visit those areas that have not been affected by the earthquake, the official said.

Local governments and tourism organizations in Japan will also strengthen cooperation with China's National Tourism Administration and travel agencies to promote Japanese tourism and the Japanese government will pay part of the promotional fees.

"Japan has attractions in film, cartoons, fashion, forests and medical treatment, but it also has some wonderful places of interest in some northeastern areas not stricken by the quake," Mizohata said.

"I hope Chinese tourists can go to Japan to experience its beauty and charm in this season during the blossom of sakura," Mizohata said.


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