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Korea to offer condolences in Japanese newspapers

The government in cooperation with Korea Tourism Organization and local tourism companies plans to publish condolences in Japanese newspapers next week.

“In the wake of the latest massive earthquake and tsunami Japanese people are suffering greatly. To console them, the KTO and the local tourism industry are in talks to put a condolences advertisement in the Japanese media,” Vice Culture Minister Mo Chul-min said on Thursday.

“The advertisement will be put in five major national newspapers and two local papers,” he told reporters in Seoul.

Mo is the ministry’s head of the ad-hoc taskforce for supporting Japan. He said other plans to help Japan include encouraging hallyu stars to hold charity concerts to raise funds and visiting damaged regions to support restoration work.

He expected the Korean tourism industry to see a severe setback due to a 30 percent to 40 percent reduction in Japanese visitors to Korea.

“We had set our goal at 10 million foreign visitors in Korea but we cannot help but revise that figure,” Mo said.

“While we originally aimed at attracting 3.3 million Japanese tourists this year, we expect the figure will drop by 1 million.”

According to the KTO, the number of Japanese tourists to Korea was 3 million last year. Japanese tourists accounted for 34 percent of all foreign travelers to Korea.

Korean travel agencies are expected to be hit hard by Japan’s quake, as more than 90 percent of reservations from Japanese tours have been canceled, Mo said.

“Korean tourism saw a 35 percent reduction in the number of Japanese tourists in the wake of Kobe earthquake in 1995. But this time, it’s going to be worse,” he said.

The Culture Ministry is reviewing a possible plan to raise a special state fund to help the local tourism industry, he added.

The Culture Ministry has also asked the local tourism industry to minimize the fees for canceled tours, Mo said.

“Be it travel agencies, hotels or air carriers, we asked them to cooperate,” he said.

By Kim Yoon-mi (yoonmi@heraldcorp.com)
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