A long road, but Japan fights back

A long road, but Japan fights back
By admin

Japan’s tourism officials have indicated the road to recovery will be a long one, despite significant progress in the 12 months since the tragedies of March 2011.

Speaking yesterday at the World Travel and Tourism Council global summit in Sendai, Japan Tourism Agency commissioner Norifumi Idee said damage inflicted on Tohoku region’s coastal areas had been “so immense’ that reconstruction was, perhaps unsurprisingly, “not easy”.
But he insisted headway was being made. The government has allocated a budget of 18 trillion yen to the recovery effort and created a reconstruction agency headed by the minister for reconstruction Tatsuo Hirano.
“We expect to see a move towards fully fledged recovery this year,” Idee told delegates during a specially-convened day-long session on disaster recovery.
The government maintains strict control over the damaged zones, with the 160,000 displaced residents now living in other areas. The region around the Fukushima power plant is still out of bounds.
But Idee stressed radiation levels in the vast majority of the region remained within safe levels and angrily denounced reports to the contrary as “unfounded rumours, not based on facts”. 
He highlighted new food standards introduced this month, designed to eliminate contamination fears.
Meanwhile, the country has increased efforts to persuade foreign tourists to return to the region.
“Travelling to Japan and Tohoku is a way to support the region,” he insisted.
Prime minister Yoshihiko Noda also expressed hopes the industry would help support Japan’s wounded economy as he opened the summit in Tokyo earlier today.
“Tourism is the frontier for Japan,” he said. But he admitted tourism needed to develop further. 
Despite the ongoing struggles faced by inbound tourism, Japan’s outbound travel rebounded strongly in 2011. WTTC figures indicated the year finished 2% ahead of 2010 with 17 million departures.
Younger travellers led the recovery from July onwards.
Domestic travel also recovered well in the second half of the year.
JTB Foundations researcher Hiroshi Kurosu said that stress around the disaster had motivated people to travel instead of staying at home.

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

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