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Korea Tourism Down By 6.8 Percent, First Time Since 2003

By January 20, 2016 at 3:54 am
Tourists in Korea (Photo : Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Korea falls under Japan's tourism after seven years of race, where the former experience 6.8 percent decline from last year.

According to the Korea Tourism Organization, the number of tourists last year went down from 13,231,651 to 960,000. In a report by The Korea Economic Daily, the decline of percentage happened for the first time since 2003.

Experts link the incident to the Middle East respiratory outbreak from June and August, where a number of tourists fell short by 40 percent. Chinese tourists, which has been fond of visiting Korea with 45 percent of visitors among all foreign tourists, went down by 2.3 percent. Japanese trippers also declined by 19.4 percent.

South Korea experienced tourism risks in 2015 especially during the MERS Crisis. In an article by GMA News, the recent outbreak of MERS left the country's tourism in great downfall. Tourism officials immediately launched a promotional campaign to lure visitors back, but were at risk of lost revenues.

"Because of the MERS outbreak, foreign tourists, including those from China, shunned visiting this country last month," said a spokesperson from KTO, who added that the 16.2 million target in 2015 may not be easy to reach.

In 2014, Japanese tourists also decline in South Korea due to diplomatic and economic issues, Travelbiz reported.

"Compared to last year, the number of Japanese tourists has dropped nearly 30 percent," said Seo Dae Hoon, a Korea Association of Travel Agents official.  "Many travel agencies that cater to Japanese tourists are making their employees take unpaid leave, and many guides are moving elsewhere. There are even one or two travel agencies that have gone bankrupt."

Japan, on the other hand, hit a high record of 19,737,400 tourists, an increase of 47.1 percent than the previous year. In a data released by the National Tourism Organization, China visitors increased by 107.3 percent from 2014 to 2015.  

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