The tourism and aviation industries are concerned about the effect of a terrorist attack that occurred in Nice, southern France, on Thursday.
Southern France is a tourist spot famous for its scenic beauty, and therefore popular with Japanese. As the summer vacation season is approaching, the horrific incident could be a blow to business for these industries.
Following a series of terrorist attacks that have occurred around the world, company executives are vocal in their worries about the possible effect on their business performance.
The travel industry is affected by terrorism the most. According to Nippon Travel Agency Co., since the terrorist attacks in Paris last November, tours heading to France have often been canceled when the numbers of participants did not reach the minimum required.
The number of visitors to Europe as a whole has remained low as well. The agency said the number of tour reservations for travel in Europe from July to September is slightly less than 70 percent of what it was at the same time last year.
“It’s very disappointing that such an incident occured with this timing because we had just begun to expect the demand in overseas travel to grow again due to the appreciation of the yen,” said a staff member in charge of the Japan Association of Travel Agents.
Terrorist attacks have also hit the aviation industry hard. All Nippon Airline’s seat occupancy rate on the Haneda-Paris route from April to July has seen a drastic drop to about 75 percent.
The number of business travelers is recovering on convenient routes. However, the number of tourists remains stagnant.
A comment from an industry source is representative of those in the business: “I hope the atmosphere of avoiding travel to Europe will not spread further among people.”
Companies with bases abroad have deepening concerns about terrorist attacks that have followed one after another. Fast Retailing Co., which has an outlet for its casual-wear brand Uniqlo in suburban Nice, said it has had no information that local employees were injured.
The major clothing retailer has a production base in Bangladesh, where another terrorist attack very recently took place. “Our employees outside Japan should refresh their awareness of safety,” a company employee said.
The companies have been asking employees who reside in foreign countries and those on business trips overseas to be alert, but those efforts have limitations.
A Nippon Steel & Sumikin Engineering Co. employee was in Turkey for a business trip in June when terrorists attacked an airport with bombs. Although the employee was safe, President Shinichi Fujiwara said, “We recognized again that entering foreign markets is always accompanied by risk.”
“It’s getting tough to deal with these situations,” said Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, the chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives known as Keizai Doyukai. “It is a worrisome development as businesspeople do not have the choice to forgo business trips,” he said
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