Japan will fully recover in 2012 following last years devastating tsunami

Japan’s travel and tourism industry is forecast to stage a complete recovery following last year’s earthquake and tsunami during the first half of 2012.

A new report by the World Travel&Tourism Council (WTTC), its fourth and final report since the earthquake of March 11, 2011, forecasts the full recovery of international tourism demand during the first half of 2012, having initially fallen 62 percent in April 2011.

According to WTTC, Japan’s travel and tourism industry is set to directly contribute JPY10,276 billion (US$129 billion) in 2012, marginally above the JPY10,246 billion (US$128.5 billion) in 2010. This followed a fall of 3.9 percent in 2011 due to the earthquake and tsunami.

David Scowsill, President and CEO of WTTC said: “Japan is the third largest travel and tourism economy in the world, so its health is of crucial importance to our industry across the globe. Japan’s travel and tourism recovery has been much better than anyone could have anticipated 12 months ago. With help of a forceful marketing strategy, Japan is open and ready for business. Domestic travel recovered strongly last year, and 2012 is forecast to be the year for full recovery of international visitors.

“It is particularly fitting that WTTC is holding its Global Summit in Sendai and Tokyo from April 16-19. We are delighted to be taking the leaders of our industry to Japan at such an important time for the country.”

Haiti: new year, new homes

Like millions of others, Celina Traesil lost everything in the earthquake that devastated Haiti two years ago. And now she’s about to move into her new home.

Celina vividly remembers the day that the earthquake struck her village in the Petit Boucan district, high up in the hills to the west of Port-au-Prince. “I was fetching water to make tea when the earth shook,” she says. “I tried to crawl away, but I couldn’t. Then my son found me and carried me to a safe place. I saw people running around, crying.”

Since January 2010, Celina has been living in a tiny shelter made from wood and tarpaulin. Two years on, thanks to your support, she’s about to move into a new three-roomed house. It’s specially designed to be earthquake-resistant and able to withstand hurricanes.

The house was built through a project run by Catholic aid agency Caritas Switzerland and by ITECA, a local organisation who have worked in the district for many years.

The temporary shelter Celina lived in after the earthquake [Mike Noyes/CAFOD]

“The road up here is very bad,” explains ITECA’s Willard Vacoll, “so it was very difficult to bring rocks and stones uphill. Before, people sometimes had to walk two or three kilometres to deliver building materials. But we managed to persuade the local authority to improve the roads. This helps not only this project, but allows farmers better access to the city.”

CAFOD’s Mike Noyes was delighted to see the progress that has been made. “I last visited the community a year ago, and we had to walk the last two kilometres because the road was so bad,” he said. “Now it’s greatly improved. When we arrived, it was a joy to hear the sound of generators, angle grinders and hammers. There was a real buzz in the community – a sense of excitement because people can see that things are happening.”

The community has been closely involved in the project from the start, helping to select the design of the new houses, and choosing who should move in first. The two years since the earthquake have been hard, but the project gives them hope for the future.

“I’m very happy to be moving into a new house,” says Celina. “I lost everything in the earthquake and I’ve been living in difficult conditions for a very long time. I’d never have been able to manage this on my own.”

Celina outside her new house [Mike Noyes/CAFOD]

Definite progress

Elsewhere in Haiti, we are supporting local Catholic agency Caritas Port-au-Prince as they build homes for families who have been living in camps. We have also been working in some of the worst-hit slums in the capital, building latrines to prevent the spread of disease.

Mike Noyes says: “Thanks to the compassion of CAFOD supporters, we are helping thousands of people like Celina to rebuild their lives.

“About three-quarters of the people who were forced into camps by the earthquake have moved out. It’s easy to say that progress could have been faster – but I remember growing up in London in the 1970s, when there were still bombsites left over thirty years after the Second World War. It takes many years to rebuild after widespread devastation, whatever country you live in.

“There are real signs of progress in Haiti. We’ll keep working there for the long term, doing what we can to help people recover from one of the worst disasters in recent times.”

Japan has come up with a new plan to encourage tourism – free flights

In wake of the destructive earthquake and tsunami in March, Japan has seen a major decrease in tourists and is now considering complimentary flights.

 

Usually a hot spot for any visitor to the Far East, the country is hoping to kick-start interest by giving away 10,000 free flights to foreign visitors.

 

The plan is still at the proposal stage, and is subject to government budget approval – but could start by April next year.

Potential visitors will be asked to submit an online application for a free flight, specifying which area of the country they would like to visit.

Successful applicants will then be asked to write a review of their trip, which will be published on the internet.

 

The hospitality will only cover flights though, once tourists arrive they will have to cover all costs, including accommodation.

 

Japan hopes that this will create positive feedback and promote Japanese holidays.

 

Kylie Clark, of the Japanese Tourism Agency (JTA) said:

 

‘When people visit Japan they fall in love with it.

 

‘So rather than spend millions on a big advertising campaign, we hope to be able to give away free flights so people can go and experience Japan for themselves and then tell their family, friends and colleagues what a fantastic destination it is for a holiday.’