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Most of Okinwa hotels refuse customers from Asia

Date Posted: 2003-05-24

Fear of SARS has prompted most of Okinawa's hotels to refuse clients from Hong Kong, Taiwan and China. Some are even refusing reservations from any overseas tourists. Okinawa prefecture has already requested Taiwan and other locations to issue health certificates to Okinawa bound travelers on a voluntary basis, but hotels do not want to take any chances, although discrimination is against the Japanese law. "We regret that we had to take this step but must ensure the safety of all of our customers," a manager at a Naha hotel said.

The problem is that there are still many tourists coming from Taiwan. Some larger hotels say they accept guests from affected countries if they can show a health certificate that shows they are free of symptoms at least ten days prior to their arrival. Some require an additional health check on the day of the arrival.

Currently there are four major travel agencies who organize tours to Okinawa from Taiwan. All of them say that refusing tours from Taiwan would be a suicide for them. "There's no way we could say to our customers in Taiwan not to come to Okinawa. But the problem is accommodations, since 90 percent of hotels in Okinawa refuse to take visitors from Taiwan," a Naha travel agency spokesman said. However, he added that the number of visitors from Taiwan has dropped drastically. "We used to get 50 to 60 groups every week, but now that is down to two or three groups a week," he said.

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