Japanese travel
for holidays

Trips to Hawaii are expected
to rise 140% during December

By Chisaki Watanabe
Associated Press Writer

TOKYO >> Rebounding from a steep decline after last year's terror attacks on the United States, Japanese tourists are once again expected to flood abroad during the holiday season, major travel associations said today.

Reservations for package tours in December made through Japan's five main travel agencies were up 147 percent from the same month in 2001, according to the Japan Association of Travel Agents.

Travel to the United States and Canada was also recovering, the association said. Overall, travel to U.S. and Canadian destinations was up 162 percent from December last year, and to Hawaii up 140 percent.

The United States, including Hawaii, Guam and Saipan, has long been the most popular destination for Japanese in terms of the actual number of tourists traveling there.

Despite the decrease since Sept. 11, that has not changed, said association spokeswoman Toshiko Kato.

Still, the number of reservations to the U.S.-Canada was just 48 percent of what it was in December two years ago. Hawaii fared better, with travel this year roughly equal -- 99.2 percent -- to what it was before the attacks.

(Visitors arrivals to Hawaii in October soared 85.7 percent above a year earlier, when tourism was severely depressed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to figures from the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. For the first 10 months of the year, arrivals from Japan are nearly 12 percent below last year.)

The association said this year's overall holiday exodus was nearly back to the pre-Sept. 11 levels, reaching 92 percent of the number of reservations made in December 2000.

The fastest-growing area for Japanese tourism is China, which is seeing a 206 percent increase from the same month last year, the association said. Next is Europe, which marks a 187 percent increase over the previous year.

The organization did not release the actual number of reservations, which were surveyed Oct. 31, only the percentage of increase or decrease. Norie Kamiwatari, a spokeswoman for Japan's largest travel agent, the Japan Travel Bureau, said the number of reservations for packaged tours it has taken is up 170 percent for the coming holiday season.

"Last year, travel was down because of the terrorist attacks," she said. "But this year, there's been a big rebound."

She said travel to China has more than doubled compared with last year, and attributed the increase to this year's opening of a second runway at Tokyo's main international airport that increased the number of flights to China greatly.

Travel to Bali plunged after the terrorist attack there, but for the holiday season about the same number of people are planning to go as in previous years, she said.

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