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Global Turmoil Hitting Travel Industry in...Actually, Pretty Much Everywhere

September 28, 2012 at 3:33 PM | by | ()

It's an unfortunate fact of life that sometimes politics impacts travel. It's an even more unfortunate fact of life that sometimes politics impacts travel so much that we have to write about it on a Friday afternoon instead of easing you into the weekend with baby animal pictures. And yet here we are, with flights being emptied or cancelled across three continents because of a variety of geopolitical flare-ups.

The most dramatic bit of travel politics comes out of Japan, where no less than 40,000 seat reservations to China have been canceled. China has been on a bit of a tear recently, claiming a bunch of islands that by and large aren't straightforwardly quite theirs. The campaign has put them on a collision course with various other countries in the region (obviously) and one of those countries is Japan. There have been anti-Japan protests in China and, apparently, lots of Japanese people are sufficiently pissed off to cancel vacations to China.

The dip in tourism is forcing both ANA and Japan Airlines to either move to smaller planes or cancel flights outright, and the situation isn't going to get better any time soon. Earlier this week Japan drew a line over a bunch of uninhabited but geopolitically important rocks called the Senkaku Islands. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced that Japan will not compromise its claims over the islands, which they've controlled since the late 1800s. According to the insidery intelligence bulletin KGS NightWatch, the statement "guarantees future confrontations with the Chinese."

A similar thing is playing out in the Middle East, where Israel's de facto national airline El Al has had to cancel routes to Egypt because the country's post-Arab Spring security situation has gotten too... oh, let's go with "dicey." The airline could no longer afford all the extra security needed to keep its planes and its passengers safe.

Meanwhile in Australia, politicians are warning about unexpected consequences stemming from a deal between Qantas and Emirates that moves one of the Australian carrier's hubs from Singapore to Dubai. More than one Australian has run into problems with Islamic law in the United Arab Emirates, including a woman who was charged with having sex outside of marriage after she was drugged and raped. Australian politicians want assurances that Australian Jews, Christians, women, and gays traveling on Qantas won't get harassed and arbitrarily arrested on layovers. No one is sure what those assurances would look like.

It's not your imagination. The world really is spinning out of control.

[Photo: Th3r0 / Flickr]

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