August 16, 2019 13:47
Travel agencies specializing in tours of the easternmost islets of Dokdo have seen their business booming amid anti-Japanese sentiment on the occasion of Liberation Day.
Tickets for ships bound for Dokdo via Ulleung Island were nearly sold out for Wednesday to Friday, according to ferry operators. But in reality ships were stuck in port on Wednesday and Thursday due to typhoon Krosa.
The number of people getting their honorary residence certificates after a visit to Dokdo has increased significantly and is expected to surpass the 50,000 mark on Friday, according to the local authority. Visitors have been offered the certificate as a souvenir after they landed on the islets since November 2010.
Travel agencies are jumping on the patriotic bandwagon. One operator of ferries between Pohang and Ulleung Island has been offering those who canceled trips to Japan a 30 percent discount for tours of Dokdo from Aug. 5 until Sept. 30.
Webtour is offering free tickets to Dokdo if travelers buy tickets to Ulleung Island for the month of August. "The number of bookings for tours to Ulleung, including Dokdo, increased 1.5 times on-month and three times on-year in August," a Webtour staffer said.
A total of 172,516 people visited Dokdo until August this year, a 29.74 percent jump from 132,970 in the same period last year, according to the local authority.
But the boom is unlikely to last. "It's true that the number of visitors to the islets soared around Liberation Day, but the overall bookings from July until today dropped 20 percent on-year," a staffer of Seaspovill, an operator of passenger boats to Dokdo, said. "In fact, overall domestic tourism in the July-August season has been on the decline over the past few years due to the economic slowdown and people's preference of overseas travel."
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