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Asia travel

Hongkongers undaunted by North Korean missiles as they head to Japan’s tourist hotspot Hokkaido

Agencies say no decrease seen in numbers visiting despite island being in flight path of missile tests

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 September, 2017, 12:59pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 September, 2017, 11:26pm

Tour agencies have urged travellers to take precautions including sufficient insurance when visiting the popular tourist spot of Hokkaido in Japan, as Hongkongers head there undaunted despite a North Korean missile test over the island.

The reclusive communist state fired a missile into the Pacific Ocean over the northerly island on Friday, its second such test in weeks. The provocative move intensified political tensions in a region already at odds over the North’s nuclear programme.

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The missile landed about 2,000km east of Hokkaido, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said. The Japanese government urged residents to stay under shelter.

But travel agencies in Hong Kong have not seen the number of tour groups visiting the island – known for its natural attractions – affected by Pyongyang’s actions.

Jason Wong Chun-tat, director of Hong Thai Travel, one of the biggest tour agencies in the city, said he had not seen a drop in groups heading to Hokkaido.

He said five or six groups with the agency had been heading to the island each month, and the peak period would be towards the end of the year.

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But Wong, who is also chairman of the Travel Industry Council, which represents the sector, advised holidaymakers to buy insurance before their trips.

He said the council would continue to monitor the situation.

Council executive director Joseph Tung Yao-chung also said he had not noticed any decrease in the numbers setting off for Hokkaido.

Last month saw a similar missile launch from Pyongyang over Hokkaido into the ocean. But Friday’s missile flew about 1,000km farther and 200km higher.

Flight from Japan to Hong Kong forced into emergency landing

The latest launch triggered emergency alerts in Japan, with text messages and loud speakers telling residents in the missile’s potential flight path to seek shelter.

Hokkaido was among the top three most visited Japanese cities by Hongkongers last year, according to a survey by the Japan National Tourism Organisation.

Some 13 per cent of the 1.84 million Hongkongers who travelled to Japan last year visited Hokkaido, trailing Osaka (20 per cent), and Tokyo (18 per cent).