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

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid