The number of Japanese tourists visiting South Korea has surged thanks to Japan’s unprecedented 10-day Golden Week holiday, delivering a welcome boost to local retailers and hotels.
Every year, Japan celebrates a cluster of four national holidays, dubbed Golden Week, from April 29 to May 5. This year, the holiday was extended to an unprecedented 10 days due to Crown Prince Naruhito’s enthronement.
Lotte Duty Free in Sogong-dong, Seoul said sales from Japanese tourists soared 45 percent during the April 27-May 4 period from a year earlier, a big jump from the 10 percent increase from January to April.
During the same period, sales from Chinese tourists were up 25 percent, falling short of the 30 percent rise within the first four months of the year.
Shinsegae Duty Free in Myeongdong also saw year-over-year sales from Japanese tourists surge 80 percent during the April 27-May 4 period. Shinsegae Department Store said foreigners contributed to a 4.8 percent increase in sales during the Golden Week holiday, with sales of female apparel up 23 percent and luxury items 17.5 percent.
Olive Young, a health and beauty drugstore popular among Japanese tourists, also said Japanese-led sales nearly doubled at its Myeongdong branch during the Golden Week holiday from the previous seven days.
Most Japanese visitors to Korea tend to come in small groups of two to four people. They are said to prefer hotels located in the main commercial districts of Seoul, including Myeongdong, Gwanghwamun, Euljiro, Hongdae and Sangsu-dong.
The Plaza Hotel, located in front of the Seoul City Hall, said its share of bookings from Japanese tourists climbed 17 percent during April 27-May 4 from a year earlier. Lotte Hotel L7 and Lotte City Hotel in Myeongdong and Hongdae also saw bookings jump 25 percent during the Golden Week. Shilla Stay, a luxury business hotel, reported a 15 percent rise in bookings during the week-long holiday.
The number of Korea-bound travelers from Japan has been climbing every month since late last year. The number peaked at 3.51 million in 2012 before halving to 1.83 million in 2015. But it has been showing steady recovery, posting a five-year record high of 2.94 million in 2018.
By Lee Yoo-jin and Kim Hyo-jin
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]