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.
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, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More