Golden Week won’t glitter very much for Koreans

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Golden Week won’t glitter very much for Koreans

South Korea’s tourism industry isn’t likely to get much from Japan’s Golden Week vacation period because of the weakened yen and threats from North Korea. But demand from China will pick up the slack, according to a survey conducted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).

The business group, which asked 60 local travel agencies about their Japanese- and Chinese-related businesses, said yesterday that 93.2 percent of respondents said reservations from Japan decreased for the end of April compared to the same period a year ago.

The Golden Week vacation, a series of national holidays in Japan that goes from April 26 to May 6, is usually a boon for the Korean tourism industry. Not this year, said the KCCI.

“During Golden Week, some 114,000 Japanese tourists are expected to visit Korea, which is 10.9 percent lower than last year,” the KCCI said. “Following the territorial dispute over Dokdo and a weakening yen, North Korean risks have been added and all of that cuts the number of Japanese tourists.”

According to the KCCI, the number of Japanese tourists has been declining since September. For the first quarter of this year, only 698,000 Japanese visited, a 22.5 percent year-on-year dip.

In contrast, the number of Chinese tourists increased 37.8 percent year-on-year to 723,000 for the January-March period, according to the KCCI.

This was the first time that Chinese tourists exceeded Japanese in terms of quarterly data.

The tourism industry expects more Chinese to visit Korea during their Labor Day holidays, which start from April 29.

“Unlike Japanese tourists, Chinese people don’t take the North Korean threats seriously,” the KCCI said. “Since the Korean Wave is continuing with singer Psy and with an increase in cheap flights, Chinese tourists are increasing steadily.”

Korea’s flag carriers and low-cost carriers (LCC) have been adding more flights flying to or from various regions in China.

Jeju Air, the nation’s largest LCC, said last week it will operate two weekly charter flights to Weihai, a city located in Shandong Province. The airline, controlled by Aekyung Group, now services 10 Chinese cities.

Jin Air, the No. 2 player, also started charter flights between Jeju and Yanji, while Air Busan launches a flight to Xian from this month.
To lure more foreigners to Korea, 41.7 percent of the survey respondents said the government needs to ease regulations and give more support.

By Joo Kyung-don []
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