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Mar 17 2011

Japan’s tsunami shaking Vietnam’s tourism industry

japan%e2%80%99s tsunami shaking vietnam%e2%80%99s tourism industry

VietNamNet Bridge – The earthquake and tsunami in Japan has led to a series of tours to Vietnam having been canceled. Meanwhile, Vietnamese travel firms say no traveler has called to cancel tours to Japan.

The spokesman of the national flag air carrier Vietnam Airlines on March 14 said “the earthquake and tsunami in Japan has affected the flights from Japan to Vietnam.” A lot of tours to Vietnam have been canceled. Right after the national calamity occurred, Vietnam Airlines flights departing from Japan were delayed. It is expected that the number of passengers who fly from Japan to Vietnam will decrease in the time to come.

The spokesman said that “the natural calamity will badly affect the air carrier’s revenue, since the Vietnam-Japan air route always brings the highest turnover among international air routes.”

Vietnam Airlines also said that “the unstable electricity and fixed telephone line supply in Japan has caused difficulties to people in following procedures for the flights.” Vietnam Airlines plans to not collect fees from the passengers who change schedules for the flights from Japan to Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese travel firms have confirmed that a lot of Japanese travelers have canceled tours.

Tien phong newspaper quoted representative of TNT-JTB, a joint venture of a Vietnamese and a Japanese travel firms, which has office in HCM City, as saying that “the travel firm’s tour guides, referring to schedules, automatically go to the airport to pick up travelers, though they do not know if Japanese travelers will come or not.” The representative said “the travel firm cannot contact the Japanese partners to update information about the trips of Japanese travelers, who booked tours.”

“To date, we still cannot calculate how many Japanese travelers have canceled tours. But, we are sure the number is very high. Most of our tour guides failed to fetch Japanese travelers from the airport,” he said.

He also revealed that a lot of TNT-JTB’s Japanese clients decided to return to Japan sooner than they had planned.

Nguyen Thanh Son, a senior executive of Apex travel firm, complained that eight of the 10 tours slated for last weekend were canceled. He said that “Apex has successfully contacted the Japanese partners.”

“However, we are still waiting for the information from the Japanese partners about if the groups of 400 and 500 Japanese travelers, who booked tours to Vietnam in April and May, would cancel the tours,” Son said.

In 2010, Vietnam received nearly 450,000 Japanese tourists. Japan is now the third biggest inbound tourism market just after China and South Korea. In the first two months of the year, 92,000 Japanese tourists came to Vietnam, increasing by 130 percent in comparison with the same period of the last year. Japanese are considered high income travelers who have high spending level in Vietnam. Therefore, the reduction of Japanese travelers in the upcoming months will badly affect Vietnam’s tourism

Regarding outbound tours, travel firms in HCM City say they have no tours to Japan at the time when the earthquake and tsunami occurred. However, they are worried that thousands of Vietnamese travelers, who have booked tours to Japan to attend the cherry flower festival, may cancel the tours. The departure has been scheduled for the end of March or early April.

“No traveler has canceled tours to Japan, but travel firms are still updating information,” said Tuyet Mai from DI Fiditour, affirming that Vietnamese people have not traveled to Japan yet on Dau tu, because it is now not the cherry flower season.

“April is the highest season of traveling to Japan, because cherry flowers blossom in this month, which really attracts travelers. The tours to Japan in this month have been fully booked. However, due to the earthquake, we still cannot contact the partners. I think tours will be delayed until everything becomes stable,” Mai said.

As for Saigontourist, Vo Anh Tai, Director of the company, said no tour cancellation cases have been reported, because the Japanese cities which Vietnamese travelers plan to visit were not affected by the natural calamity.

Representatives of DL Vietran said “the earthquake and tsunami stricken areas are located in the northeast of Japan. Meanwhile, tourism cities such as Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto are located in the south. Therefore, he does not see high possibility of tour cancellation.”

C. V

Mar 14 2011

Japan faces escalating nuke threat, meltdowns may occur

japan faces escalating nuke threat meltdowns may occur

Japan is facing an escalating nuclear threat on Sunday as the country’s top government spokesman warned that radioactive meltdowns may have occurred in two reactors of the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is seen in this still image taken from NHK news program on March 13, 2011. Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility supplier, notified the government early Sunday morning that the No. 3 reactor at the No. 1 Fukushima plant had lost the ability to cool the reactor core. The reactor is now in the process of releasing radioactive steam, according to top government spokesman Yukio Edano.   (Xinhua/NHK)

“We are acting on the assumption that there is a high possibility that one has occurred” in the No. 1 reactor of the quake-hit plant, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a press conference on Sunday while being asked whether or not meltdowns had occurred.

“As for the No. 3 reactor, we are acting on the assumption that it is possible,” he said.

The latest reports of Japan’s Sankei Shimbun said that pressure has been successfully released at the No. 3 reactor of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant following the injection of fresh water.

Tokyo Electric Power Co.(TEPOC), operator and owner of Fukushima nuclear plants, said early on Sunday that a sixth reactor at the nuclear power plants has lost its ability to cool the reactor core since Friday’s quake.

The No. 3 reactor at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant lost the cooling function after No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the No. 1 plant and No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 at the No. 2 plant had suffered the same trouble.

At an emergency press conference early Sunday, Edano said the reactor is releasing radioactive steam after the malfunction occurred.

An explosion occurred at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant Saturday, destroying the roof and the walls of the building of the No. 1 reactor’s outer container.

Four people were injured at the power plant, but radiation levels dropped quickly after surging for a while following the blast.

The top government spokesman warned that 114 people are still staying within a 10-km radius of Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plants and 180,000 in the 20-km evacuation zone.

All inhabitants have been evacuated from a 3-km radius of the No. 2 plant, and authorities have begun evacuating more than 30,000 from a 10-km zone around the plant, he added.

On Saturday, authorities expanded the evacuation zone from a 10-km radius for the Fukushima nuclear plants to a 20-km radius.

Kyodo News reported Sunday that 19 more people were found to have been exposed to radiation, in addition to the three exposure cases recorded Saturday.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has notified Japan’s nuclear safety agency that the radiation level at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has exceeded the legal limit.

The Japanese authorities on Sunday upgraded the magnitude of the earthquake which hit the country’s northeastern and eastern regions Friday to 9.0 from 8.8, Kyodo News reported, citing the Japan Meteorological Agency.

So far, the number of people who have died or remained unaccounted for after the quake have exceeded 2,000, the police said. The official death toll was around 700, Kyodo News said.

In Fukushima Prefecture alone, 1,167 were unaccounted for and well over 600 corpses had been found in both Fukushima and Miyazaki prefectures, said the report.

There are also tens of thousands of people that local governments have been unable to contact, police and local officials said.

Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said Sunday that Prime Minister Naoto Kan has instructed the defense ministry to increase the size of Self-Defense Forces for quake relief operations from 50,000 to 100,000 troops.

While the country continues to grapple with the widespread damage from the massive earthquake, countries across the world have also offered a helping hand to it.

A total of 50 nations and regions have promised to provide with relief support, and offers from over 70 specialist rescue services from around the globe have been received by Japan.

A 15-member Chinese rescue team arrived at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport Sunday for quake relief operations.

The Chinese International Search and Rescue Team (CISAR) brought with them 4 tons of materials and equipment for search and rescue, power supply and telecommunication.

The rescuers will immediately head for quake-hit areas to search for survivors from Friday’s great earthquake and ensuing tsunami.


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