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Disaster crimps Pacific tourism

By Jim Kavanagh, CNN
Tourists from China listen to their tour leader Friday at Narita International Airport outside Tokyo, Japan.
Tourists from China listen to their tour leader Friday at Narita International Airport outside Tokyo, Japan.
  • Japanese, American travelers canceling reservations for Hawaii
  • Tourists cancel plans to visit Japan; Asian travelers can't go through Tokyo
  • Some airlines waiving fees for cancellations, date changes
  • Some cruise lines forced to cancel port calls in Japan
  • Japan
  • Hawaii
  • Tourism
  • Natural Disasters

(CNN) -- The travel and hospitality industry in the Pacific, including Hawaii, is the latest victim of the ongoing disaster in Japan.

Groups and individuals are canceling both business and leisure trips to Japan because of infrastructure problems and sensitivity to the Japanese people's suffering, travel companies report.

"Until the rolling blackouts, shortages of food and supplies improve, people are not going to board planes," Danny Ojiri, vice president of sales and marketing for Asia Pacific for Outrigger Enterprises, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. "What's happened in Japan is so high profile that it will affect the Asian business going through Japan, too."

Hawaii tourism is suffering a triple whammy as Americans fearing airborne radiation from Japan's damaged nuclear power plants are canceling Hawaii trips, Japanese are canceling Hawaii visits to tend to matters at home, and Asian travelers are unable to connect as usual through Tokyo, according to the Star-Advertiser.

Some airlines are waiving fees for travelers to change their flights, and even offering full refunds for "non-refundable" tickets, John DeFreitas of Panda Travel in Honolulu told CNN affiliates KGMB and KHNL.

Fliers can check the websites of All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Delta Air Lines and others for details.

Foreign nationals plan to evacuate Japan
Japanese yen hits high

Hotels are being hit hard. Starwood Hotels and Resorts expects April bookings for Waikiki to drop by 25 to 30 percent, Keith Vieira, senior vice president and director of operations for the chain's Hawaii and French Polynesia locations, told the Star-Advertiser.

"This market is our largest, so it has much more potential to hurt us," he said.

Guam, whose tourism relies in large part on visitors from Japan, also has been affected, according to Pacific Daily News.

"We had a big group cancel," Makoto Furuyama, a guide for Holiday Tours on Guam, told PDN. "About 400 people from an insurance company that was supposed to arrive" on Wednesday.

On the other hand, some Japanese have paid high, last-minute prices to flee to Guam to wait out the disaster's aftermath, PDN reported.

"We signed up yesterday to get out of the city because of the nuclear problem," Tokyo area resident Kazue Momma said.

Cruise lines have been affected as well. Royal Caribbean and Oceania Cruises have canceled port calls in Japan, while Princess Cruises is waiting to make a decision, the British publication Cruise Critic reported.

Cunard was forced to cancel a call in Nagasaki by the Queen Mary 2 last weekend, and Azamara Quest also had to divert a ship, Cruise Critic reported.