Travel Agents Face Mass Bankruptcies

  • By Han Kyeong-jin, Ahn Sang-hyun

    March 09, 2020 12:39

    The travel industry is veering ever closer to mass bankruptcy as the coronavirus scare keeps Koreans at home. The latest blow comes after it was already hit by mass protests in Hong Kong and a boycott of Japan amid soured bilateral relations last year.

    Even Korea's No. 1 and 2 players Hana Tour and Mode Tour now say they could face closures, while many smaller enterprises are already shutting up shop.

    Hana Tour saw the number of bookings last month plummet 84.8 percent, while Mode Tour suffered a 77-percent decline as tourists shunned package tours to China, Japan and Southeast Asia. And now 91 countries around the world either ban or restrict travelers from Korea.

    /Yonhap

    Future prospects are bleak. A staffer at the Korea Association of Travel Agents said, "The ecosystem of Korea's travel industry is collapsing and the livelihood of its 1 million workers is being threatened."

    The impact is being felt in outbound, inbound and domestic tourism. An official at the Jeju provincial government said, "On our island where tourism accounts for 70 percent of its economy, the mood can be summed up as panic."

    The southern resort island actually saw a rise in tourists during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome epidemics, but not this time. Even Koreans have stopped visiting Jeju.

    According to the KATA, 93 travel agencies have closed down since Jan. 20, when the coronavirus outbreak began to spread here.

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