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Korea Welcomes Returning Japanese Tourists

Japanese tourists returning to Korea

Sep 20, 2009

Japanese tourists are returning to South Korea as worries ease over the spread of the influenza A (H1N1) virus.

Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) officials said the number of Japanese tourists who visited South Korea in August was 240,000, an increase of 27 percent from a year earlier.

In July, the number of Japanese visitors who came to Korea marked an increase of 29.1 percent from a year ago.

As the global recession and fears over the new influenza affected international travel, the number of Japanese tourists here was 209,000 in May, an increase of 9.8 percent year-on-year. In June, the number was 181,000, a decrease of 0.7 percent on a yearly basis, officials say.

"When the first patient infected with the new influenza A was confirmed in Japan and South Korea a few months ago, the number of visitors declined. But situations have been changed as worries over the spread of the diseases have eased," an official from KTO said last week, adding that the approaching fall shopping season in South Korea is also attracting Japanese travelers.

Such positive signs are also lifting the sales revenue of the nation's bigger department stores. According to officials from the Lotte Department Store in Myeongdong, one of the fashion districts in South Korea, the sales portion of Japanese tourists has been soaring since July.

"The portion of Japanese tourists in terms of our monthly sales was 12 percent as of Sept. 13. That was a sharp contrast, when the portion plunged a record monthly low of 7.6 percent in June," an official at Lotte said.

The H1N1 factor played a major role in crimping arrivals. Tourists from East Asian countries such as Japan and China, which are among South Korea’s key cash-boxes, stayed away in droves.

The South Korean government said it will not apply value-added taxes to vaccines or medicines to treat Influenza A, which it fears may spread rapidly in the coming weeks.

The disease has killed seven people in South Korea since it was first reported in May. Nearly 7,000 cases of type-A flu infection have been reported here, but most patients have fully recovered.

Japanese tourists returning to Korea
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