Japanese tourists support New Zealand
11 Mar 2011
As international support rolled into New Zealand in the wake of the 22 February Christchurch earthquake, the heart-warming gesture of a group of Japanese tourists has struck a special chord.
On the eve of their departure from New Zealand, the 52 members of the Japanese tour party left behind a touching note of support to the people of Christchurch and New Zealand, along with a donation to earthquake recovery efforts.
The travellers personally delivered the funds they had collected to the Red Cross, in Auckland, which is administering the Earthquake Recovery Appeal.
The tour party from Kyushu left a message and translation, addressed to "all who were victims" of the earthquake and handwritten on Rendezvous Hotel Auckland notepaper.
"We would like to donate to you. Our aim of the donation is to recover this massive disaster for all victims and Christchurch city. We hope you and the city get well soon."
It is signed: "Best wishe[r]s from 52 Japanese tourists."
Tour Leader Hiroaki Otake, of JTB Kyushu Corporation, said his company would be looking at developing a "lets support NZ" tour from October onwards.
The JTB Kyushu tour party, which arrived in New Zealand on 27 February, spent seven nights in New Zealand.
Originally scheduled to visit Christchurch city, their readjusted post-earthquake itinerary gave them extra time to see other parts of the Canterbury region - which were open, operating and welcoming visitors - as well as some extended time in the North Island.
The group flew into Auckland and down to Christchurch Airport, and travelled by tour bus to Lake Tekapo, Mt Cook, Queenstown, Arrowtown, Cromwell, and Milford Sound.
Their South Island schedule included a day trip on iconic Milford Sound, wine tasting in the Central Otago, walking on Aoraki Mt Cook, and a gondola ride to the top of Queenstown.
The North Island itinerary included exploring Auckland, Maori cultural experiences at Rotorua and the glow-worm caves at Waitomo.
Tourism New Zealand’s regional manager - Japan, Jason Hill said the Japanese travellers’ gesture as "special".
"The nice thing is that they had the option to cancel, and given the Japanese culture of not being seen to be enjoying yourself when others are suffering, makes this all the more special," Hill said.
"We have seen cancellations in the last two weeks but these are dropping off and the outlook is looking more positive with new bookings starting to come in and positive media reports about the rescue effort and the way Japanese victim’s families were looked after coming out.
"The perception of New Zealand and New Zealanders has not been damaged, and we expect the growth we were seeing from Japan before the quake to come back in the second half of the year."
According to the Christchurch Canterbury Tourism office, the area involved in the Christchurch earthquake accounts for only one percent of the South Island land area. The rest of the Canterbury region and the South Island is operating as usual.
Christchurch International Airport, which is the main tourism gateway into New Zealand’s South Island, continues to operate normally.
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