China Comfort Travel Group Co, one of the country's largest travel agencies for group tours to Japan, said Thursday that it would offer refunds and bear the economic loss from the cancellation of Japan-bound tours that it announced last week in response to Japan's illegal nationalization of the Diaoyu Islands.
The majority of its clients expressed their support for the decision to stop organizing tours to Japan, China Comfort Travel said in a statement Thursday. Some clients even said they were willing to bear the loss caused by the cancellation themselves, the company said.
Only some individual clients of the company's Tianjin subsidiary had demanded compensation for the cancellation, it said.
The company is negotiating with airlines, hotels and the Japanese embassy in China to minimize the losses resulting from the cancellation. Any remaining losses will be borne by the company, the statement said.
On September 11, China Comfort Travel Group announced that its 220 branches and 5,500 offices across the country had stopped organizing tours to Japan and the company would refund all expenses to its clients.
Many other travel agencies have followed suit, and also suspended tours to Japan.
Zhao Xiangxiang, a spokesperson at China International Travel, told the Global Times that the company had cancelled all tours to Japan during the coming National Day holiday. The company had organized tours for 600 travelers to Japan during the holiday, and they will be refunded for the cancellation.
Gao Jiajing, director of the Asia Pacific Tour Department at Shanghai Spring International Travel Services, told the Global Times that almost two thirds of its clients, including 10 Japan-bound chartered flights for a China-Japan culture exchange tour, have also cancelled their trips to Japan.
The company did not voluntarily cancel the tours, but it will also offer refunds.
"Some Japanese tourists also cancelled their tours to China. But the number is much smaller than the Chinese tourists," she said.
Chinese tourists spent a total of 196.4 billion Japanese yen ($2.5 billion) in 2011 or 16 billion yuan, ranking the first in terms of foreign tourists' spending in the country, China Central Television reported Wednesday, citing data from the Japan National Tourism Organization.
"The Diaoyu Islands dispute will not be resolved very soon. Compared to China's economy, Japan's economy is more vulnerable," said Jin Baisong, deputy director of the department of Chinese Trade and Studies at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.
"The impact on Japan's tourism from the canceling of Chinese tour groups going there may be even bigger than the effect of Japan's massive earthquake last year," he said.
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