China pledges to send more tourists

Kyodo

The chief of China’s tourism agency has pledged to send more visitors to Japan after the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis scared away Chinese travelers.

Speaking Tuesday at a meeting organized by the Japan Tourism Agency as part of the Japanese government’s campaign to encourage Chinese tourists, Shao Qiwei, director general of the China National Tourism Administration, said his country will try to send large groups of tourists to all parts of the nation except for the disaster-hit areas.

According to Japanese government data, Chinese tourists shrank by an estimated 60 percent in April compared with a year earlier.

A Chinese delegation of around 100 officials from local government tourism bureaus, travel agencies and Chinese airlines is visiting the country after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Prime Minister Naoto Kan agreed on the visit at their meeting in Tokyo on May 22. The summit took place after Wen toured areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

Shao said at the meeting with his counterparts in Tokyo that tourism helped pave the way for restoration in Sichuan Province, which was devastated by an earthquake in 2008. The China National Tourism Administration on March 12 advised Chinese nationals to stay away from areas devastated by the disaster and contaminated by the radioactive substances from the Fukushima complex.

Chinese tours to Japan resumed partially in April, but Japanese tourism officials expect the endorsement by Chinese authorities to jump-start tourist visits.