With the Japanese Yen currently strong against many foreign currencies, Japanese tourists are now heading to neighboring South Korea. One South Korean won is now equal to 6.54 Japanese yen, while it used to be 12.24 yen less than a year ago.
“Tours to South Korea have increased by 160%, compared to last year. A 2-night, 3-day package tour, including return tickets and accommodation, is now 17,7800 yen. This is our most popular travel product,” says a spokesperson for JTB, a major travel agency in Japan.
Travel agency Hanatour Japan Corp, whose headquarters is in Seoul, is also currently offering cheap 2-night, 3-day tours to South Korea, including accommodation at the prestigious Lotte Hotel for 28,800 yen.
However, the flip side to this is a plunge in in-bound tourists to Japan. Hanatour says there has been a massive decrease in South Korean tourists traveling to Japan. About 80% of its business this year has been South Korean tourists in Japan.
“They are staying away from Japan because of the global financial crisis and lots of bankruptcies in South Korea as well as the strong yen,” says a spokesperson for Hanatour. "I think the yen will stay strong, which is bad for Kyushu tourism. Many South Koreans take their winter holidays in January.”
A spokesperson for the Beppu City Tourism Association in Oita Prefecture says, “A lot of South Koreans started canceling group reservations in early autumn when the value of the yen shot up against the won.”
An employee of a hot spring hotel in Beppu says, “Due to cancellations by South Korean tourists, we don't have any reservations from the end of 2008 to the beginning of 2009. We're planning to offer discount plans for Internet reservations and group tour travelers. We have to go after the domestic market now." (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)© Japan Today