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OPINION: 'Our holiday destination is in a state of emergency because of coronavirus. We're still going.'

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. We encourage anyone with travel plans to consult the Australian Government’s Smart Traveller website for updates.

We booked our trip to Japan about a year ago and have been counting the days since.

We flew home from Asia to pick up all our winter gear and we are ready to go. Five days in Tokyo and then 10 days skiing at Club Med Tomamu in Hokkaido, the prefecture that was declared a state of emergency last week. And while our itinerary now reads as a tour of Japan’s ‘novel coronavirus’ hotspots, we’re still going. And we leave on Tuesday.

If it was so serious that a Do Not Travel alert was announced, or our flights and accommodation were cancelled, then yes, of course we wouldn’t be travelling. But as of now, Qantas is still flying (although is one of the few airlines not offering any cancellation or flight change waivers) and Club Med is operating under blue sky days with the best snow of the season and strict protocols for health and hygiene.

Of course, I’ve got COVID-19 on my mind, but less as a health concern and more about logistics – things change so rapidly right now and I don’t want to get stuck there and unable to get home. But as always, we will deal with the problems as they arise.

Here are my thoughts on why we are still travelling during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Side note: Here’s what the star signs are like at the airport. Post continues below. 

Video by Mamamia

It’s so different being in Asia than reading about it at home.

We’ve just spent the past three months in the Philippines, Myanmar and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Tourism was definitely lower than usual which meant less crowds and a more enjoyable experience overall. I’ve not seen any panic and very few face masks.

These countries have been so responsible and quick to move – Myanmar, for example, stopped flights from China on 1 February and asked all Chinese tourists to leave the country.

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Coronavirus signage and sanitiser were swiftly placed at tourists spots – even at the ancient Bagan temples – with information about how to stay safe. We felt safe at all times. Airports were calm, although quiet (we flew through Cebu, Manila, Yangon, and KL) with very few face masks.

Coming back to Australia a few days ago I felt the panic as soon as we arrived. The multiple daily online stories and unrelenting drama of ‘pandemic’ preparation.

People are starting to stockpile food and, I believe, a government aware of its failure to prepare and manage the bushfire crisis and now doing everything it can to create a visage of control is heightening the drama.

Good hygiene is most important.

We’re taking hand sanitiser, soap and a small hand towel, and will be washing and sanitising as often as we can. We are taking antiseptic wipes to clean all surfaces on the planes, and we have masks (mum and dad’s local pharmacy gave us some leftover from the bushfires) although I am not sure we will wear them.

The research I have done, including chatting to our local doctor, all points towards good hygiene as the key to avoiding the virus. Our doctor was resigned and realistic.

“It will be here soon anyway, there’s no point missing a great holiday trying to avoid it. Go and have fun.”

And we will.

Listen: How concerned should we be about Coronavirus? Some media outlets have been accused of causing panic and anxiety but how do we keep cool heads with information coming from everywhere? Post continues below.

While the theme parks and big attractions are closed in Tokyo, the nature is still there.

So I’ve had to cancel our Disneyland and Team Lab Borderless tickets and it really sucks – especially because if we’d gone just one week earlier we would have been able to visit everything.

On the flip side, this trip we will now be visiting parks and playgrounds and exploring nature – a totally different experience to what we had planned, and possibly even more rewarding. And Takeshita St in Harajuku is still open so rainbow cheese and cute ice-creams and colourful fairy floss are still on our menu.

I have absolute confidence in Club Med.

We have 10 days in the snow at Club Med Tomamu, and I’ve been in touch with the resort and also with guests who are staying there who have clearly laid out the precautions the resort is taking to keep guests safe, like temperature checks, increased cleaning around the resort and new dining protocols. We are also staying at MIMARU hotel in Tokyo, and while I haven’t stayed here before, I know it’s family-focused and they also have strategies in place to help guests. So I’m very comfortable.

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✨Traveling to Japan + COVID-19 ✨We leave next Tuesday, and I’m feeling fine about it. Here’s my thoughts: First up – it’s important to make your own decision about travel right now. Everyone will make the right decision for their family – whether it’s canceling, postponing or continuing with their trip. There’s no right or wrong and no reason to justify your decision. I’ve learnt many times to trust my gut and instincts. Do what’s right for you ???????????? For us right now that is to continue with our trip to Japan. It‘s disappointing that Disney and Team Lab are closed but I understand that the Japanese authorities are doing everything they can to stop the virus spreading. Makes sense to me. We will be following advice and ignoring the sensational media reporting. ???? We have five days in Tokyo and even if big attractions are shut we can still explore parks and temples and get out and about ⛩. We have: ✔️Masks (we were given them today at the chemist, they’re stocks from the government) ✔️Hand sanitiser ✔️Antiseptic wipes ✔️Common sense (the most important!) As long as there are no major changes we will be flying on Tuesday! ✈️How about you? How are you feeling? Any changes or travel concerns? ????????????

A post shared by EVIE & EMMIE ???? (@mumpacktravel) on

What am I worried about?

The only concern is flights being cancelled or us being unable to get from Tokyo to Hokkaido. We will know soon enough though and for now, we are pushing on to have the best time we can.

Ultimately the decision is up to every individual, especially when you’re making the decisions for your family. There’s no right or wrong answer as to whether you cancel, postpone or still take your trip. If I had small or immune-compromised children, was travelling with elderly family members or even just had a fear or the virus then of course I would cancel.

It is entirely up to you.

For up to date information about travel and COVID-19, travellers should check the Australian Government’s Smart Traveller website. Currently, the website says those travelling to Japan should ‘exercise a high degree of caution’. You can read more about the state of emergency in Hokkaido here. 

Has coronavirus affected your travel plans? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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