The Tourism Situation in Japan and New Zealand

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Over the past couple days ToursByLocals has received several messages from Japanese and New Zealand guides concerned about the very real effect recent natural disasters are having on tourism in their regions. While we would never recommend traveling to a danger-zone, the vast majority of Japan and New Zealand are safe and unaffected by recent events. Regardless, many people are choosing to cancel travel plans to these countries, even when their travel would take them nowhere near the affected areas.

Today we are choosing to let two of our guides speak directly to you, letting you know the reality of the situation in their cities and countries, and extending an invitation to come visit and see for yourselves the resilience of the people and landscape.

Hello. My name is Yumi Fukui Dumortier, a tour guide in Tokyo, Japan.

After the recent earthquake and tsunami disasters, I received a lot of cancellations from tourists around the world. I cannot help but accept these cancellations, because the tourism business is always susceptible to such kinds of natural disasters.

However, when we Japanese tour guides look at media reports outside of Japan, we see they are reporting exaggerated information about Japan and nuclear issues. We decided that we should spread real and updated information about the current situation of Japan and Tokyo. Because the Nuclear power plants are quieting down recently and Tokyo is calmed down, and our life gets back to normal, business should once again become active as usual. Overseas media outlets are continuing to sell stories of disaster and hysteria, while in most parts of Japan, we are quietly resuming our normal lives.

Following are articles from the Japan Times and video messages by journalist Daniel Kahl who has lived in Japan for 30 years. We’ve found these first-hand accounts to be less sensational than many of the foreign media sources.

Japan Times Article 2
Daniel Kahl video outreach 1, Daniel Kahl video outreach 2
No Restrictions on Travel to Japan by International Civil Aviation Organization.

Jack Tregear, one of our Christchurch guides, sent us the following message.

As you know, Christchurch, New Zealand has been hit by two very large earthquakes and well over 5000 aftershocks. After dealing with the initial shock, we now need, more than anything, to get back into business. The cruise ships have been very supportive and have used Akaroa as their port of call. Their kindness and thoughts are very much appreciated.

The reality of downtown Christchurch is devastating to long-term residents. The Christchurch Central Business District will never be the same. The city will rise again but it will be so different. The demolition crews have shown no mercy and much of the city is in ruins either from the quakes or the demolition people with their machines. This has understandably saddened us.

What must be understood by all travelers is that the Airport has sustained no damage and south and west of the city is virtually untouched. Christchurch is still a gateway to the rest of the South Island which is open for business as usual. Akaroa is a delightful destination and only about one hour from the Airport. Blenheim, Kaikoura, Dunedin, the West Coast, Mount Cook and the Southern Lakes are all operating normally and accessible from Christchurch Airport. What our people need more than ever is to be able to carry on with business as usual. The aftershocks are now dropping right away and we are beginning to believe that the ground has settled down again.

Outside my cruise ship commitments, I have had cancellations from people citing the quakes for not coming to New Zealand. In reality, their tours often did not go near any quake affected area, but outside perception of our region seems to not reflect the reality.

It is going to be a long winter for us but it is to be hoped that potential visitors will understand that Christchurch CBD is just one tiny area which cannot be included in their itinerary just at the moment. New Zealand still stands in all its beauty, and we look forward to receiving overseas visitors.
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