MERS outbreak divert Chinese tourists to Japan

Published on : Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tourists wearing masks to prevent themselves from contracting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) arrive at the Incheon International Airport in IncheonSoutheast Asian tourists are turning away from South Korea due to the outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Tourists from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong prefer Japan over South Korea in the given situation.


Owing to the contagious disease which has already claimed 27 lives in Korea. The country is expecting to lose above $900 million in tourist revenue even when the WHO has not imposed any travel restrictions on the country.


There have been over 123,000 cancellations from international visitors which mostly comprise of Chinese visitors.


South Korea saw a 20 per cent growth from mainland tourists in May 2015 and in January and February the figures touched a high of 39 and 58 per cent respectively.


Since May Chinese visitors to Japan soared up by 134 per cent according to Japan National Tourism Organization. For the first time the Chinese have dominated Japan’s visitor arrivals, this shows the tourist trend shifting due to various reasons. If the trend should continue, Japan will outrun Korea in Chinese arrival numbers. With the depreciation of yen and also outbreak of MERS, Japan has become a more lucrative destination for mainland tourists. The Cragon Boat Festival is another excuse to draw tourists to Japan.


Japan on its part has relaxed tourist requirements facilitating visits from Chinese tourists. The Chinese middle class which has long been bitten by the travel bug miss no opportunity to travel to attractive destinations. Outbound tourism for the country has touched a record of $165 billion since last year.


With Korea reeling under MERS threat and number of trip cancellations increasing tourism is in a dismal state for the region. There has been a 20 per cent slump in tourist arrivals in Korea while Japan has gained 80 to 140 per cent tourists.

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