Japanese tourism industry feeling effects of S. Korea’s travel boycott

Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, is one of Japan’s most popular tourist destinations. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

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SEOUL, Jul 29, 2019, Hankyoreh. The effects of a boycott on tourism emerging in South Korea in the wake of Japan’s export control measures are beginning to be felt in Japan, reported the Hankyoreh.

According to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper on July 25, the major Japanese travel agency JTB reported a drop of around 10% in individual South Korean tourists using the company’s service in July compared to the same period last year. The company’s PR division was quoted by the newspaper as saying, “This appears to be a manifestation of political effects.”

A mid-July survey by Oita Prefecture of 24 local ryokans (inns) and hotels often used by South Korean tourists also reported 1,100 individuals canceling reservations at three of the places, the newspaper said. Oita is home to the Beppu hot springs, which are well known among South Koreans. The Tenjin branch of the Daimaru shopping center in Fukuoka further reported a decline of around 25% in spending by South Koreans through July 23 compared to the same period last year. Because of its proximity, Fukuoka is considered a major destination for visits by South Korean tourists.

Japanese local governments are expressing concern that the situation may drag out. Because South Korean tourists often visit smaller local cities in addition to major metropolises like Tokyo and Osaka, their behaviors have a substantial impact on Japanese local economies. Indeed, South Korean low-cost carrier (LCC) airlines that previously offered extensive service to local Japanese cities either have suspended or plan to suspend service due to the current trade conflict.

By Cho Ki-weon, Tokyo correspondent

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