Regarding Amy Chavez’s April 2 column, “This earthquake still felt all over Japan“: As a Frenchman married to a Japanese and as a one-year resident of Japan, I usually read Chavez’s articles with great pleasure and enjoy the wit in her writing. This article is no exception as it gives us the usual insight into her “island in the island” life.
As family and friends have inquired about our well-being since March 11, I have replied in the same words that Chavez said she used: “We’re in Kanazawa, on the other side of Japan, more than 500 kilometers away, so don’t worry for us.” But the inbound travel agency I work for has been hit hard by “collateral damage” from the quake, tsunami and nuclear plant crisis.
We were very lucky to have been spared, and I keep thinking about those who were not. Yet, as Chavez mentioned, the livelihoods of many people who live in areas unaffected by the triple-disaster — from Kyushu to Ishikawa — and who are involved in businesses from canoe rentals to inns and guided tours are now threatened.
The “Visit Japan” campaign and our efforts were bearing much fruit before March 11, and we were looking forward to a record spring season. In less than a week, all bookings for the rest of March, April and May, as well as some for August and October, were canceled. As a small independent travel agency, we now face an uncertain future.
I can only hope the nuclear crisis will be brought under control sooner than later and that the media — so prompt in relaying tragedy — will also inform the public about the progress made since the disaster and the safety of travel in Japan. I also hope all actors in the tourism sector (hotels, inns, travel agencies, public organizations and so on) join hands to raise international awareness about the need for tourism to come back swiftly and to support tourism-related businesses and their local economies. Hopefully, Chavez’s great article will contribute to making people realize this.
I am neither a writer nor a journalist, but wanted to write to the media to expose this little-talked-about consequence.
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