News / Asia

Japan's 'Golden Week' Loses Luster for S. Korean Travel Industry

A Japanese tourist (R) speaks to a volunteer interpreter in Central Seoul April 8, 2013.
A Japanese tourist (R) speaks to a volunteer interpreter in Central Seoul April 8, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
— Japan's 'Golden Week' holiday period is about to begin. Normally this is a time for the tourism industry in neighboring South Korea to celebrate.  It is a primary destination for vacationing Japanese. But travel reservations indicate a significant downturn this year.

Bookings for Japanese to visit South Korea between this Friday and May 6, are 11 percent lower than last year, according to a survey by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

For a decade, the travel industry has enjoyed the fruits of the so-called “hallyu” boom, primarily driven by Japanese fans of South Korean television dramas and pop music groups.

But the industry has seen a steep slide in the number of Japanese visitors since last September, a month after a provocative visit by then-President Lee Myung-bak to a small island held by South Korea, but also claimed by Japan (known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese).

The Korea Association of Travel Agents says the number of Japanese tourists plunged more than 22 percent during the first quarter of this year.

Territorial disputes

According to Rhee Byung-chan, director of the Japan team at the Korea Tourism Organization, there are several factors for the decline.

Rhee said not only can it be blamed on the lingering territorial spat, but also on the weakening of the Japanese yen and alarming headlines about North Korea.

In recent months, Pyongyang shot into space a long-range rocket and conducted its third nuclear test, before further rattling nerves internationally with stark warnings of imminent war on the Korean peninsula.

Cho Gye-seok, a director of the Korea Association of Travel Agents, said this plunge is being regarded more seriously than the one three years ago when fears about avian influenza scared off 30 percent of Japanese tourists. But, he noted that was a global trend and the numbers bounced back.

Cho explained that some travel agencies have seen a loss of half of their business, forcing them to send their employees on extended vacations or lay off workers.

If this continues, Cho said, it will lead to a collapse of the system tailored for catering to Japanese tourists. Thus, the government is urgently being asked to help.

Enhanced marketing

The industry wants the government to provide funds for enhanced marketing and for organizing promotional events and festivals.

Japan Team Director Rhee at the Korea Tourism Organization said a new advertising campaign is also about to be unveiled to attempt to lure more Japanese back to South Korea.

South Korean rapper, PsySouth Korean rapper, Psy
x
South Korean rapper, Psy
South Korean rapper, Psy
He said from mid-May the tourism organization will begin airing television commercials in Japan featuring the musician Psy, who is famous for the most-watched online music video --“Gangnam Style”.

The impact from the loss of the Japanese has been somewhat buffered by a rise in the number of inbound Chinese visitors.

During the first quarter of this year, 723,000 Chinese visited South Korea, an increase of 38 percent compared to the same period in 2012.

Industry officials said, unlike the Japanese, visitors from China appear unfazed by the threats from North Korea.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid