Korea Sees 1st Decline in Tourism in 12 Years

      January 20, 2016 10:45

      More foreign tourists visited Japan than Korea last year for the first time in seven years.

      The Korea Tourism Organization on Tuesday said 13.23 million tourists came to Korea last year, down 6.8 percent compared to 2014 and the first decline in 12 years.

      The decline was mainly due to the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome here last year, which led to 140,000 fewer Chinese and 440,000 fewer Japanese tourists coming to Korea.

      Instead Japan saw a record number of foreign tourists. Data from the Japan National Tourism Organization show that 19.47 million went to Japan last year, up a whopping 47 percent from the previous year.

      Not only has a weak yen made Japan more attractive as a shopping destination, but an aggressive campaign to attract tourists like easier visa procedures contributed significantly to the boom.

      "Unless we come up with a long-term plan that moves beyond the existing lineup of low-cost tours and shopping itineraries and develop new tourist attractions that appeal to more visitors, Korea's tourism industry is likely to keep shrinking," said a KTO spokesman.

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