Trips to Middle East losing popularity

Trips to Middle East losing popularity
The Roman Temple of Artemis in Jerash, Jordan.

The deadly hostage incident perpe-trated by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant group is creating a great deal of anxiety for those planning trips to the Middle East.

As ISIL threatened further terrorist attacks targeting Japanese, travel companies and the Foreign Ministry are seeing a surging number of inquiries. Some travelers have already cancelled their reservations or changed their destinations.

Jordanian travel company Enjoy Petra received three cancellations of trips to Jordan since the hostage crisis came to light on Jan. 20, according to the firm's branch in Toshima Ward, Tokyo. Customers who cancelled the trip were planning to visit the nation in the period from February to April. Those customers expressed their concerns about security and worries about the situation in the area, the company said.

Jordan is a popular destination, with famous attractions such as the Dead Sea and the ancient ruins of Petra, a World Heritage site.

"I'm afraid we won't have any applications for trips for a while," said Machiko Tanaka, a staff member of the branch.

Reservations for trips in January and February dropped 20 per cent compared to an average year, according to a Tokyo-based travel company hosting individual tours to the Middle East.

"The image of [the Middle East being] dangerous overwhelms everything," a staff member in charge said.

The same tendency can also be seen at a major travel company in Tokyo, with some of its customers changing their destinations from the Middle East to Europe, the United States and Asia.

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