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Global Impact of Japan Earthquake Disaster


An aerial view of Minato, Japan after a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami.
Stocktrek Images/Getty Images
Updated June 07, 2014

The global tourism community is watching and calculating the impact of the recent earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor issues that have devastated parts of Japan. and how it will affect the rest of the world. Besides extending well wishes for the people of Japan, many countries wonder how it will affect trade, tourism, and other financial matters related to each country.

High season travel to Japan is right around the corner, with the cherry blossoms blooming. Japan is bound to suffer tremendously with canceled travel bookings. The U.S. State Department has issued an advisory for Americans not to travel to Japan unless absolutely necessary. Airlines are accessing the situation as new developments unfold. Luckily no major cruise lines had ships in port during the crisis, and are reorganizing port destinations. Tour companies are canceling or rerouting tours, urging clients to book a different destination, rather than completely canceling.

When the country suffers a national crisis, Japanese people feel a sense of responsibility toward their country, and travel outside the country declines. This cultural characteristic, along with practical reasons for staying within the country, should, at least temporarily, reduce tourism around the world.

For starters, Japanese tourists to the United States are among the top visitors in the world. Tourism to Hawaii includes almost 20% from Japan. Hawaii is already projecting a possible two billion dollar decline in tourism from Japan tourists in 2011.

According to the Hawaii Convention and Visitors Bureau, HVCB, tourist arrivals from Japan grew by 18% from January of 2010, spending on average of $288 USD per person, per day. Timeshares increased steadily with Japanese visitors as well. The number of Japanese traveling for incentives tripled in January, 2011.

Hawaii also suffers from the tsunami waves hitting the islands as a result of the massive earthquake. The Four Seasons Hualalai and Kona Village Resort on the big island, Hawaii, remain closed after the tsunami. Otherwise Maui and Oahu are recovering from road and shore damage from the waves. The Pride of America cruise ship returns to Kailua-Kona, after canceling after the tsunami. HVCB says they are ready for visitors.

HVCB reports that the USA west coast arrivals to Hawaii grew by almost 13% last year, each person spending almost $150 per day. The Big Island, Hawaii, increased traffic almost 10%, spending on the big island, Hawaii, rose almost 24% in January.

International Air Transport Association, IATA, expects that premium air travel will be down in March, since the Japanese market makes up six to seven percent of the premium global market. Premium first class and business travel just rose from December to January travel.

Other countries already predicting loss of tourism and financial revenue include:

  • Thailand travel to and from Japan.
  • Travel from India to Japan for business purposes expected to be down for automobile and engineering companies. Japan had recently introduced multiple-entry visas for Indians having U.S. visas, among other marketing and tourism promotions designed to gain Indian tourism business.
  • New Zealand will be affected, as Japan is their 4th largest trading partner. New Zealand exports many products including aluminum and fish to Japan. They are waiting to calculate damage to ports, and how the Japan economy will affect trade, therefore business travel between the countries.
  • Queensland, Austalia, stands to suffer from the crisis, after they experienced a 12% increase in Japan tourists last year. Japan is the 5th largest inbound group of tourists to Australia. Jetstar started service from Osaka to Cairns last year, increasing tourist traffic. Queensland tourism in general has already suffered from recent massive floods around the area.
  • Nepal’s tourism is expected to be down with many Japanese already cancelling trips to Nepal.
  • Indonesia predicts lower tourism numbers to and from Japan.

Many other countries should have tourism and other economic repercussions from the Japan earthquake, tsunami, and general devastation. Hopefully tourism can bounce back. The world will watch and wait to see the toll the disaster takes, and how tourism will recover.

Please see my blog and share how the Japan disaster has affected tourism.

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