Monday, March 21, 2011

Business Travel to Japan Shutting Down

USA Today: With concerns about radiation spreading beyond northern Japan following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear crisis, corporate travelers and companies are canceling trips to Tokyo and other cities, forcing airlines to cut flights and leaving travel agents to hustle for last-minute changes.

Yasu Kambe, manager of Amnet, a New York-based travel agency that specializes in corporate travel to Japan, says "about 95%" of his clients' trips to Japan in the next month have been canceled. Its sister agency, Tabit, which handles leisure travel, has also seen 60% to 70% cancellations. "It's just too much," he says.

Meanwhile, multinational employers with large exposure to Japan, including InterContinental Hotels and Honda's U.S. headquarters, are following the U.S. State Department's lead by prohibiting trips to Japan for non-essential employees.

Richard Catalano of Cleveland, an anti-bacterial wipes manufacturer, was scheduled to fly to Tokyo last Friday, but was hesitant about the trip for much of last week. Radiation and aftershocks didn't worry him as much "as getting stuck" there, he says. "I don't want to base my decision on what I see on TV." Still, the State Department's decision last week to evacuate dependents of U.S. government personnel spooked him enough. On Thursday, he called off the trip. "I figure if the State Department is evacuating, it's time to postpone," he says.

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