• Kyodo


People who bought or reserved China-bound package tours for the April to September period at four major Japanese travel agencies fell to one-fourth of the previous year’s level amid soured bilateral ties and concerns over air pollution on the continent, the agencies’ data showed Tuesday.

As of late July, 6,302 people had bought or reserved such tours at JTB Corp., Nippon Travel Agency Co., Jalpak Co. and KNT Co., down 75.2 percent from a year earlier.

The finding came ahead of the first anniversary of the government’s effective nationalization last September of the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. China in recent years has also claimed the islets, which it calls the Diaoyu.

“Given the rise in anti-Japan demonstrations in China last year, people remain reluctant (to visit) and (tourists to China) will probably remain scarce,” said a senior executive of one of the Japanese travel agencies.

By company, sales and reservations of China-bound package tours during the period fell by 99.0 percent at KNT, 93.3 percent at Nippon Travel, 74.7 percent at Jalpak and 68.5 percent at JTB.

Overall sales of package tours abroad were also sluggish amid the yen’s depreciation against other major currencies, with the total number of people who bought or reserved such tours at the four travel agencies in the period falling 13.1 percent to 979,998.

Sales and reservations of Taiwan-bound package tours fell 13.9 percent to 52,646 people, while those for U.S.-bound tours declined 11.1 percent to 40,374.

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