Thursday, July 22, 1999

JTB bans trips
at New Year’s

Hawaii is among those areas
targeted due to Y2K fears

Star-Bulletin news services


TOKYO -- Japan's largest travel agency will not sell New Year's tours involving air travel, saying it was concerned that other nations aren't sufficiently prepared for the Y2K computer bug.

Japan Travel Bureau Inc. said today it will not book trips requiring flights from Japan to Australia or New Zealand on the evening of Dec. 31, 1999, through the morning of Jan. 1, 2000. The Japanese daily newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported today that the ban will include Hawaii trips.

JTB said it also will avoid booking almost any international flights departing from Japan on the morning of Jan. 1. Similarly, JTB will not book flights leaving European countries or the United States for Japan on the morning of Jan. 1.

The Y2K, or millennium bug, refers to the fact that many computers are programmed to recognize only the last two digits of a year -- thus computers could crash or malfunction on Jan. 1, 2000 if machines read the "00" as the year 1900.

The decision not to book the New Year's trips "doesn't mean we expect planes to fall out of the sky," said Tsuneo Nishiyama, a company spokesman. "It's that we aren't convinced other countries have taken sufficient measures to handle all the possible effects of Y2K."

However, it is Japan that is widely regarded as being behind other major industrialized nations in the race to fix potential Y2K computer problems. Computer experts tracking the Y2K problem consider the United States and Australia to be among the best prepared countries.

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