Tourism officials from Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture are in town to drum up interest among Hong Kong travelers in the once popular destination that was severely hit by a nuclear disaster.
The officials stressed that the current level of radiation in Fukushima has rapidly declined and in certain areas of the prefecture the radiation levels are even lower than in Tokyo, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Japan has long been a favorite destination of Hong Kong tourists. However, as a result of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant, the number of Hong Kong visitors dropped 70 percent to around 900 a year from 3,000 annually before the March 2011 incident.
According to Fukushima authorities, there were 87,170 visitors who stayed in a hotel or hostel employing at least ten employees before the disaster. Yet, the number decreased by 70 percent to 2,400 people after the incident.
The number of visitors has returned to pre-disaster levels again, reaching 71,820 people in 2016.
In terms of origin, the number of visitors from Taiwan has shown the biggest increase, about 140 percent of the pre-disaster level.
For Hong Kong visitors, the number dropped from 2,750 before the disaster to only 870 last year.
A Fukushima tourism official cited data from Safecast, an international environmental group, showing that the radiation level in downtown Fukushima, which was about 60 kilometers from the nuclear plant, was 0.17 Sievert per hour.
It was one of the areas with the highest radiation level outside the restricted area, due to the direction of the wind, which was toward the city, during the leakage, the official said.
In contrast, without the influence of wind, the reading at Iwaki city, which is 20 km south of the nuclear plant, was only 0.07 Sievert per hour.
Aizu, a city 120 km away from the nuclear plant, recorded a reading of 0.05 Sievert per hour, even lower than the reading of 0.14 Sievert per hour in Tokyo. According to Safecast, the reading in Hong Kong was 0.28 Sievert per hour on the same day.
Yuen Chun-ning, managing director of WWPKG Holdings Co. Ltd., said his company will continue to roll out group tours to Fukushima following the drop in radiation levels. There will be two groups departing in late October and early November, with prices set at HK$8,000 per person. Some 14 individuals have signed up for the tour so far.
Steve Huen Kwok-chuen, executive director of EGL Tours Co. Ltd., said Fukushima is on the itinerary of some of his company’s tours, although only Aizu will be visited.
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