Japanese travel agencies have received many calls from people planning to visit Paris during the 10-day Golden Week holiday period, specifically asking about the massive fire that broke out at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, one of France’s symbolic UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The 850-year-old cathedral is a well-known tourist destination for Japanese people and many of those who were planning to visit the architectural, cultural, and religious landmark during Golden Week are devastated by Monday’s fire, travel agents said.
This year’s extended Golden Week holiday, primarily to celebrate the 2019 imperial succession, has created a surge in overseas travel for Japanese tourists. Major travel agencies said Tuesday they were trying to ease concerned travelers who had their sights set on seeing Notre Dame, Sankei Shimbun reported.
According to Japan’s leading travel agency, JTB Corp, travel tours to Europe have been particularly popular this Golden Week. Many tours to France had incorporated Notre Dame on their itinerary. However, a JTB spokesperson said the company is looking to find alternative sightseeing spots.
In addition, Nippon Travel Agency (NTA) is confirming the safety of 78 tourists who were in Paris when the fire engulfed the historic monument, but French authorities said no casualties had been reported. Furthermore, NTA has begun considering how to handle the 1,250 tour group participants who have registered for a tour of Paris during Golden Week. A spokesperson said tour groups will probably still want to have a look at the cathedral, although French officials are not allowing any members of the public to get too close.
Meanwhile, major travel agency H.I.S. Co says the reservation status for Paris since the beginning of January has risen to eighth most popular from 11th place last year. While some officials were concerned over the sudden change of tourist destinations due tot he Notre Dame fire, the main tour plan offered at H.I.S. was not “significantly impacted” as it does not specifically decide which landmarks to visit.
Following news of the fire, many Japanese people expressed their sadness online with posts ranging from “I’m terribly sad because I’ve always wanted to visit the cathedral” to “I’m in shock and distressed.” Within moments of the story breaking, the internet was flooded with posts describing users’ devastation and despair.
Some prospective Japanese tourists to Paris wrote, “Does this mean we are going to have to see the burnt ruins?” and “I want to donate money to help rebuild Notre Dame.”© Japan Today