Japan quake/tsunami disaster hurts Japan tourism, but also the rest of the world
It's obvious that the earthquake and tsunami have had a major impact on Japan. Tourists are understandably not booking week-long trips to the battered nation. Cruise ships have pulled out in favour of longer stays in other parts of Asia.
It's sad, but that makes sense given the scale of the disaster. What some folks may not have thought about early on is the reverse flow, that is, how the troubles in Japan will impact on visits from Japanese tourists.
Hawaii already is feeling the pinch. Some folks (possibly with overactive imaginations) fear radioactive fallout in the Hawaiian islands from Japan's damaged nuclear reactors. A larger concern is that Japanese, who are big spenders outside their home country, are cancelling trips to stay at home, as cnn.com points out. Other Asian travelers can't connect through Tokyo the way they used to, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Here's what the Honolulu paper had to say "'Starwood Hotels & Resorts anticipates bookings for April and May in Waikiki will come in 25 percent to 30 percent lower than anticipated,' said Keith Vieira, senior vice president and director of operations for Starwood Hotels & Resorts in Hawaii and French Polynesia. The chain has experienced thousands of cancellations, especially on the group side, from Japan, Vieira said. The Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa, the Hilton Hawaiian Village and Outrigger Hotels & Resorts also have reported significant Japan decreases."
If it happens in Hawaii, chances are it will happen here, too, which means we could see a serious decrease in Japanese visitors to places such as Banff, Niagara Falls and, yes, even Anne of Green Gables country in Prince Edward Island.
The latest Conference Board of Canada report, issued Monday, suggested a downturn in Japanese visits was expected and also noted the sharp rise in visits to Canada from India and China. The latter two developments are good news but I believe the volume of visits from China is still fairly low, and it's doubtful that overseas visit increases will make up for the bad news from Japan. Not to mention increasing fuel costs and other issues.