Tokyo, Sept. 18 (Jiji Press)–The estimated number of South Korean visitors to Japan in August plunged 48.0 pct from a year before to 308,700, down for the second straight month, the Japan National Tourism Organization said Wednesday.
The pace of decline was the steepest since the slump soon after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan, accelerating from the 7.6 pct marked in July this year as more South Korean people refrained from visiting Japan amid heightened tensions between the two countries over trade and history issues.
Japan revoked South Korea’s status as a preferred trading partner in August, while Seoul decided to exit an intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo.
Dragged down by the fall in South Korean visitors, the overall number of visitors to Japan in August slipped 2.2 pct to 2,520,100, the first drop since September 2018, when the country’s tourism was hit by a series of natural disasters, including a powerful earthquake in Hokkaido.
Tensions between Tokyo and Seoul could act as a headwind against the Japanese government’s efforts to increase the number of visitors to the country to 40 million in 2020, pundits said.
In August, many individual travelers from South Korea cancelled their planned visits to Japan in addition to a spate of cancellations of group tours that started in July.
The number of South Korean visitors to Japan is expected to continue slumping as an increasing number of South Korean low-cost carriers have suspended flights linking the two countries.
“There are various factors” that have contributed to the fall in the number of South Korean visitors to Japan, including heightened Tokyo-Seoul tensions and weakness of the South Korean economy, Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Hiroshi Tabata told a press conference.
The number of visitors to Japan from mainland China jumped 16.3 pct to 1,000,600, topping one million for the second consecutive month.
The number of visitors from Hong Kong fell 4.0 pct to 190,300, as many flights were canceled due to protests at Hong Kong International Airport.