Singapore travellers postpone Japan trips

By Gwendolyn Ng and Rachel Chan

TRAVELLERS are postponing trips to Japan because of the earthquake, tsunami and threat of a nuclear meltdown, travel agents say.

Ms Jane Chang, Chan Brothers marketing communications manager, said yesterday: "Customers who were scheduled to depart for Japan last week have chosen to postpone their travels to the following weeks or to the June holidays."

It's a similar situation at CTC Travel.

Many travellers are opting to leave at a later date or for another location.

Ms Alicia Seah, its senior vice-president of marketing and public relations, said only 20 per cent of its customers have cancelled their trips. The rest "are choosing to travel to unaffected parts such as Kyushu and Hokkaido, or even other parts of the world", she added.

Travel companies say they understand that customers would be apprehensive about travelling to Japan. Ms Eva Wu, SA Tours' marketing and communications manager, said: "It is to be expected if people want to stay away for a little while. We don't really know how much the earthquake will affect Japan."

Professor Kerry Sieh, a seismologist and director of Nanyang Technological University's Earth Observatory of Singapore, said: "There's a heightened likelihood of experiencing big aftershocks in the next weeks, months, even years in that area, within 500km of that earthquake rupture along the eastern coast of Japan."

All flights to Tokyo had resumed yesterday, save for a 5.40am Delta flight that was cancelled, said a Changi Airport Group spokesman.

Miss L.C. Chan, 52, a technical accounts manager at an insurance firm, was one customer who chose to cancel her eight-day Japan trip, which included a three-day stay in Sendai, the city closest to the quake's epicentre.

She was due to fly last Friday night, hours after the quake. She said: "I feel fortunate that I had not flown to Japan yet. Safety comes first."

Others, like Ms Bernie Ong, 40, a technical officer, are unfazed. Ms Ong is going ahead with her travel plans. She is headed to Kyushu on March 24.

She said: "My friend in Kyushu told me she didn't feel the earthquake. I'm not too worried. The area I'm going to is pretty far from where the quake hit."

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