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Chinese tourists skip Japan as territorial row heats up
Hong Xu, Shanghai, September 24, 2012

MOUNTING anti-Japanese sentiments resulting from a territorial row between China and Japan over the ownership of a cluster of five islands have caused many would-be tourists in Chinese cities to cancel trips to Japan for the upcoming eight-day national holidays.


Tensions between the two countries neared boiling point when the Tokyo governor announced intentions in early September to purchase the islands, known as Diaoyutai in China and Senkaku in Japan, from a Japanese landowner.


On September 11, China Comfort Travel Group, one of the country's largest travel agencies for Japan-bound group tours, announced that it would halt its plan to bring 50,000 tourists to Japan, which had earlier been arranged to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the normalisation of China-Japan relations.


The company's 220 branches and 5,500 offices across the country had stopped organising tours to Japan and the company would refund all expenses to its clients, said Li Jilie, chairman of China Comfort Travel Group.


China National Tourism Administration had also cancelled its delegation to Japan for the JATA Tourism Forum & Travel Showcase last week.


A representative of China International Travel Service (CITS) said the company’s Beijing office had cancelled all tours to Japan for the national holidays. As the dispute is ongoing, the representative is unsure when Japan-bound tours will be resumed or the extent of impact the move will have on business.


Ding Jianmin, assistant general manager of Shanghai CITS International Travel Service, said it was normal for Chinese and Japanese travellers to want to cancel trips in such situations, as they were worried about their personal security.


"But if the situation keeps deteriorating, I am afraid the Japanese market will remain sluggish over the next two years," said Ding.



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