Competitive tourismThe Ministry of Construction and Transportation has agreed on a deal with its Japanese counterpart on Thursday that will allow Korean airlines to fly to Japan from any of the cities in Korea. Korea also made a similar deal with the northeastern Chinese cities of Jilin, Liaoning and Heilongjiang. This gives us an advantage in the northeast Asian air traffic market.
Korea is the first nation in this region to make such a free aviation deal with Japan. This will now allow airlines from the two countries to independently coordinate the number of air routes and flights, which will lower air fares, activate regional airports and enhance the overall aviation industry. But considering the lack of power in the tourism industry, it is clear that the nation’s tourism deficit with Japan will increase. This is a cause for concern.
Korean tourism already lags behind both Japan and China. About half of the foreign tourists that come to Korea are either Japanese or Chinese, but that number is decreasing each year. By contrast, the number of Japanese and Chinese tourists visiting each other’s countries is increasing. The unfavorable condition between Korean and Japan is even worse. This year, it is expected that the number of Japanese tourists that visit Korea will be much less than the number of Koreans that visit Japan. This is the first time that will happen since the Korea-Japan normalization negotiation in 1965.
It could be because Japan has exempted visas for Korean tourists and the yen has weakened, but it is mainly because our tourism competitive power is terrible. We don’t develop our tourism resources nor manage them properly. But the price of commodities is unreasonably expensive. Moreover, in some areas, they overcharge tourists and the service is horrible. These are the reasons that make many Koreans go spend their vacation in a country known for high prices. There are also foreigners who refuse to visit Korea after their first visit.
The Japanese government and their regional organization are doing their best to attract tourists from Korea and the neighboring countries to activate their regional economy.
The reason the Japanese government made an agreement with Korea is because it wants to attract more Korean tourists. With our competitive power in tourism crashing, the deal that we made could poison in our tourism industry. The Korean government and several of the regional governments are now scrambling to make economical golf courses and lower lodging fees.
But they should come up with a much more epochal plan if they want to adapt to the new age when we can now travel freely, regardless of departure and destination, between Korea and Japan.