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Major tour agencies cut 15% of workforce over COVID-19 fallout

Travel agency counters at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, remain deserted on April 22, 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Yonhap)
Travel agency counters at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, remain deserted on April 22, 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Yonhap)
South Korea's six major travel agencies cut some 15 percent of their workforce over the past year as travel demand has taken a massive hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, data showed Wednesday.

At the end of March, six listed travel firms had a total of 4,268 employees, down 15.4 percent from a year ago, according to the data by the Financial Supervisory Service.

Industry leader HanaTour shed 13 percent of its workforce, and Mode Tour cut 10.7 percent, the data showed.

In the first quarter of this year, the average salary of a HanaTour employee stood at 4 million won ($3,543), compared with 9 million won a year ago, according to the data.

However, their stock prices have rallied over expectations that travel demand will soon recover as vaccinations gain speed around the world.

At the end of March, shares of HanaTour jumped 82.7 percent on year, while shares of Mode Tour soared 123.9 percent on year.

Local tour operators have been hit hard by the global spread of COVID-19, which has resulted in a tumble in travel demand following lockdowns in the United States and major European countries. More than 140 countries have imposed entry bans on South Koreans.

With overseas travel almost impossible, the government has joined hands with travel agencies to boost domestic tourism in a bid to help them tide over the crisis.

Travel agencies, in turn, are struggling to overcome the coronavirus fallout with furloughs and other cost-cutting measures. (Yonhap)

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