|Jeju Air's baggage drop-off counter for Japan stands empty at Incheon International Airport, Aug. 4. / Yonhap|
By Kang Seung-woo
Not only have the number of Korean tourists to Japan declined but so have the travel satisfaction levels of those who still choose to travel there amid the ongoing anti-Japan movement, according to a recent survey, Thursday.
Consumer Insight, a local tourism industry research lab, carried out a poll in September on the overall satisfaction levels regarding overseas tourist destinations of 13,958 people who traveled abroad from September 2018 to August 2019.
The index was comprised of questions assessing the satisfaction they felt regarding their destinations and their intent to recommend those locations to others.
The poll found that Japan fell out of favor with Koreans as it dropped to 28th out of 32 countries after collecting 675 out of a full 1,000 points. The neighboring country ranked 18th last year with 740 points.
The 32 countries were the destinations that at least 60 or more Koreans visited during the period and the researcher included Hawaii, Guam and Saipan on the list separately from the United States.
|Mannlichen viewpoint, Switzerland / gettyimagesbank|
Consumer Insight said Japan's fall in the rankings was mainly affected by emotional factors such as a deterioration of its image and reputation in Korea.
Earlier this year, the Japanese government decided to impose restrictions on exports of three industrial materials to Korea and removed Seoul from its list of preferred trading partners, following a Korean top court ruling last year requiring Japanese firms to compensate Koreans subjected to forced labor during World War II. Angered by the Japanese government's move, Koreans have staged a campaign boycotting Japanese products and refrained from traveling to Japan ― once a popular destination for Korean travelers.
The company also conducted another poll on the satisfaction levels on 32 major holiday spots of eight Asian countries, to which a large number of Koreans traveled, and found that the rankings of a majority of Japanese cities sharply declined, losing more than 50 points. The 32 sites were those visited by 30 or more Koreans.
Nagoya came in fourth after jumping three notches, but six others ― Sapporo, Okinawa, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Osaka and Tokyo ― fell by at least eight places, with Osaka posting the largest drop of 18 places. The outcome is in sharp contrast to last year's rankings, in which four Japanese cities made the top five.
"The surveys show overall travel satisfaction levels are affected by diplomatic relations and a nation's reputation as well as travel resources and quality," a Consumer Insight official said.
According to a separate study, the number of Koreans staying at hotels and tourist inns in Japan halved in August from a year earlier.
The Japan Tourism Agency said the number of Koreans at such accommodations decreased 49.2 percent in August year-on-year, according to Japan's Kyodo news agency.
Among Japan's 47 prefectures, 44 recorded decreases in the number of Korean hotel guests. Nagasaki suffered the largest decrease of 77.5 percent during the period.
According to the tourism agency, the number of Korean travelers to Japan decreased 58.1 percent in September from the same period last year.
Back to the travel satisfaction levels of the 32 countries, Switzerland ranked first for the second straight year with 843 points, followed by Croatia and Spain that switched rankings from the previous year. Only those three European countries surpassed the 800-point mark, with the average of the listed countries at 740.
Hawaii, two points short of 800 points, came in fourth and Austria sat fifth with 795. Singapore was the lone Asian nation to make the top-10 list after ranking seventh with 783 points.
In the survey on Asian travel sites, the Philippine island of Bohol sat atop the list with 800 points, up 52 from last year, and Phu Quoc, the largest island in Vietnam, came in second at 782. Bali, regularly chosen as one of the world's best travel destinations, jumped by 15 notches into third with 751.
|Aloha Beach in Panglao, Bohol, Phlippines / gettyimagesbank|
The researcher's separate poll that interviewed 25,724 people in June and August found that more Koreans opted for domestic travels instead of overseas trips for their summer vacation, with 70.5 percent picking domestic tourist destinations.
"The reason for the increase of domestic traveling for summer vacation was that the demand to travel to Japan has converted to domestic traveling due to the trade war between Korea and Japan and the anti-Japan movement," it said.