The current spat between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands, known as Diaoyu in Chinese, is starting to affect airlines flying between the two countries. Demonstrations in China targeting Japanese businesses and products have led to cancelations from both sides.
TOKYO (majirox news) — Television images showing broken windows of Japanese stores operating in China, overturned Japanese cars, and mobs attempting to storm the Japanese Embassy in Beijing have unnerved travelers in China and Japan. One of Japan’s largest airlines, All Nippon Airways, has reported 15,000 cancelations from the Chinese side between September and November.
“Many of these cancelations are from the Chinese National Tourism Administration,” said Wang Jia Liang, airline industry expert. “They have ordered tours to Japan to be canceled during the China’s National holiday period in October. China Spring Airlines predicts a 30 percent drop in passengers on the China-Japan routes and scrapped 10 charter flights from Shanghai to Tottori before the end of November.”
And Japanese tourists are worried about traveling to China. ANA reports that nearly 4,000 Japanese have canceled their plans to visit China using their airline.
In fact, on Sept. 20 at the Tokyo International Airport where the next flight to China was leaving in an hour and a half, the check-ins were empty.
“But it’s not just airlines that will suffer,” Wang said. “Chinese visitors to Japan account for 25 percent of the spending by overseas tourists in Japan. Chinese tourists bring a lot of money into Japan as they buy expensive cameras, electronics, and consumer goods. In addition, Japan’s travel agencies, buses, hotels, restaurants, tour guides and many others are affected.”
The Japanese National Tourist Association fears a 20 percent drop in numbers visiting Japan from China. However, Wang said he expects an improvement of the situation after October. Meanwhile, many Japanese traveling to China are nervous.
Mr. Tamura, who just came back from China, said, “I was there during the demonstrations, so I stayed in my hotel room, and only came out when I had to for business.”
Japan has warned its citizens about visiting China during October.
Mr. Hayashi, who leaving for Beijing today, said “I am very nervous about going to China, but I have no choice since it’s a trip for my furniture business. The way we and the Chinese think are very different and it is worrisome.”
Following the easing of visa requirements and price-cutting for Chinese visitors, Japan’s foreign tourism efforts appeared to be on track to reach pre-March 2011 levels, as foreign fears of radiation and other effects of the disaster eased. Now the annual tourist figures may suffer as the result of this dispute.