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Flu causes 20,000+ tourists to cancel Okinawa visits

Date Posted: 2009-05-28

The increasing number of influenza cases being identified in mainland Japan is causing a tourism crash on Okinawa, as schools and tourist groups cancel spring vacations.

Okinawa’s tourism industry is expressing concerns about the cancellations, which thus far total more than 20,000 shortly after mid-month. More than 85 schools have canceled trips, as have 32 general tourist groups, many as a result of newly identified influenza cases in the Osaka District and Hyogo Prefecture.

Okinawa Prefecture’s tourism division says it’s not all doom-and-gloom, noting that Okinawa is also benefiting from group tours being diverted from foreign countries. Already, 42 school tours and other general tourist groups heading overseas have been switched to Okinawa instead.

Naha International Airport reports that domestic passenger traffic is down 0.6% from a year ago. An airport official says the decrease—145,000 compared with last year—is the worst since the September 11th terror incident in New York. Officials say the worldwide economic depression is also a contributing factor.

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