Japan’s powerful earthquake and tsunami have left “aftershocks” on the Vietnamese tourism industry, leading to a fall in the number of Japanese tourists to Vietnam.

According to statistics provided by several travel agents, about 30 percent of Japanese clients have cancelled upcoming trips to Vietnam.

Nguyen Thanh Son, Head of Apex Tourism Company’s Management Department, said the company had eight out of 10 tours cancelled in only the last few days of last week and the number was expected to increase in the future.

Meanwhile, Japan’s natural disasters also prevented Vietnamese tour operators from launching trips to the catastrophe-hit country.

A representative from Thai Binh Duong Travel Company said the company had to halt a number of tours to Japan which were scheduled to start in mid-March. However, the representative also expressed hope that in the next ten days the tours would operate normally when the number of aftershocks reduces.

Many tourism companies worry that the booking cancellations would seriously affect the tourism sector’s targets to attract over 500,000 Japanese visitors this year, an increase of 100,000 tourists over 2010.

However, Masato Takamatsu, Deputy Marketing Director of Japan Tourism Marketing said that the situation would no longer happen.

In the past decade, the number of Japanese tourists flowing to the Southeast Asian region, especially Vietnam, has increased remarkably, Masato Takamatsu noted.

Survey recently conducted by the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) showed that 88 percent of Japanese holidaymakers chose Vietnam for enjoying food and shopping, 59 percent for study of history and culture and 35 percent for natural discovery.

JATA has defined Vietnam as one of 10 key destinations of Japan’s tourism promotion programme in the next few years.

The Vietnamese tourism industry has also considered Japan one of its most attractive markets because of its wealthy visitors, whose expenditure ranges between 1,000 USD to 1,200 USD per person while the average expenditure of other nationalities is from 400-450 USD per head.

Japan now ranks third among Vietnam’s top ten markets with the largest number of tourists, after the Republic of Korea and China./.