Japan's JTB to lay off 6,500 as coronavirus batters travel

TOKYO, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Japanese travel agency JTB Corp will cut its workforce by 6,500 members to 22,500, a company official said on Friday, in the latest sign of the dire impact of the novel coronavirus on the travel industry.

JTB will also close 115 of its outlets, or 25% of the total it had in the 2019 financial year, by the next fiscal year, and freeze the hiring of new graduates, the official said.

The travel agency will also need to slash personnel costs by 30% in terms of the annual incomes of all the employees in the next financial year, said the official, who declined to be identified.

Japan’s travel agencies have been among the firms hardest hit by the pandemic, which has threatened to trigger a wave of bankruptcies and lay-offs.

Although Japan has avoided the kind of rapid spread of the coronavirus seen in Europe and the United States, a recent resurgence of infections has raised alarm among policymakers trying to contain the pandemic while keeping the economy afloat.

New coronavirus cases hit 2,027 in Japan on Friday, topping the 2,000 mark for the third straight day, domestic media reported, with the number of new infections in Tokyo at 522. (Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto Editing by Robert Birsel)