Tokyo in drive to win back radiation-wary German tourists

Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:42pm EST
 
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By Victoria Bryan

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Two years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan is making a big push to win back German tourists, who are still avoiding the country because of concerns over radiation.

Visitor numbers from Germany, the world's biggest spenders on foreign holidays in 2011, fell 35 percent between 2010 and 2011, and in 2012 did not recover as much as other markets, Tokyo tourism officials said in Frankfurt this week.

"After the earthquake, business travelers came back fairly quickly, because business will not wait. But tourists are still cautious," said Hiromi Waldenberger, a tourism representative for Tokyo based in Germany.

Germans are especially sensitive to nuclear issues and reacted strongly to the Fukushima disaster, with Chancellor Angela Merkel taking the decision to exit nuclear power as a result.

Even at the dentist, Germans are often skeptical about the effects of x-rays and require reassurance over radiation levels.

A delegation of officials and exhibitors from the Japanese capital are therefore spending almost a week in Berlin and Frankfurt, to extol Tokyo's restaurants, culture, fashion and architecture.

More importantly in their attempt to boost tourism numbers from Germany, they have called in a German radiation expert, Rolf Michel from the University of Hanover, to help allay those radiation fears.

"In fact, the level of radiation occurring naturally in Japan is much lower than that of Germany," said Michel, who also highlighted data showing levels found in food were now negligible.   Continued...