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More South Koreans are hitting back at Tokyo’s export curbs by boycotting travel to their favorite overseas destination, with the number of package tour bookings to Japan nearly halved and trips being cancelled in droves.
Korea’s leading travel agency Hana Tour reported the average daily number of package tourists to Japan fell to 500 from 1,100-1,200 prior to the trade row.
Another local travel agency Mode Tour saw bookings to Japan in the first 18 days of this month plummet 70 percent from a year earlier, with the number of package tourists also halved.
On July 4, Japan tightened exports of high-tech materials that are critical for the production of Korean chips and smartphones, citing national security reasons. Korean officials slammed the move as retaliation over Korean court rulings on Japan’s wartime reparations.
The feud reignited the long-simmering tensions between Korea and its former colonizer. Koreans immediately launched a boycott campaign to shun all Japanese products, from cars and beer to clothes and cosmetics. They also called out for fellow Koreans to stop visiting the neighboring country.
In response, many are canceling their planned trips to Japan, with a growing number of people posting pictures of their canceled tickets on social media.
YB Tour said the number of bookings to Japan dropped 70 percent in the July 1-18 period from a year ago, while cancellation surged 50 percent. Interpark Tour also witnessed a 50-percent fall in new bookings after July 8, with the number of cancellations more than doubled.
In the case of We Make Price, a local ecommerce firm, the cancellation rate jumped nearly fourfold, from 9 percent in the last week of June to 15 percent in the first week of July and 36 percent a week later.
The growing travel boycott has forced local travel agencies to suspend their Japanese travel offerings. As of July 13, AM Tour halted the sale of its package tours to Japan’s Shimane Prefecture.
This has prompted a local movement to boost tourism at home. Some Korean holiday pension operators have started a promotional campaign offering discounts to those who have cancelled their trips to Japan.
According to Japan National Tourism Organization, Koreans are the second-largest tourist group in Japan after the Chinese. Some 7.54 million Koreans traveled to Japan in 2018, making up 24.1 percent of all foreign visitors to the country.
[ⓒ Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]