Tourism is an increasingly important sector of the Japanese economy,… but it could be in trouble.
According to Japanese government data on Wednesday,… the number of South Korean tourists visiting Japan fell 7.6-percent in July from a year earlier.
That was the lowest figure since September 2018, when flooding from a typhoon closed Kansai airport and a strong earthquake struck Hokkaido.
And Korea's boycott has hit rural destinations hard too.
Only 30-thousand people live on Japan's Tsushima Island, but over 4-hundred-thousand South Korean visited the island last year.
But this year is a different story.
Some local hotels and restaurants which were crowded with Korean tourists are now virtually empty.
"Normally 500 people are booked every month,… but as you can see, there are only 10 people booked."
"Almost none. I think it will continue for a while,… it is getting worse and worse."
This trend is also similar for places in Kyushu and for Tottori Prefecture,… where Koreans had been the largest group of foreign tourists.
And the travel boycott has gone on for almost 2 months now, going against claims by Japanese leaders that it won't last long.
"Many Koreans like Japanese animation, fashion, and food,… I doubt it will last long"
The mood inside Japan, which used to ignore the boycott by Koreans, now seems to be changing.
With such sluggish business,… some travel agencies in Hokkaido are even arranging welcoming events just for Korean travelers,… trying everything to get their rural economy back and running.
Last year, 7.5 million Korean tourists in Japan spent about 5.5 billion U.S. dollars, with most of it going toward lodging and shopping.
But many industry experts say that Japan's efforts are coming too late and the fall in visitors this July is just the beginning of a much larger drop in tourist numbers.
The fall in July only really came from some cancelations of already booked tours, but since then, there seems to have been few new bookings from Koreans.
Won Jung-hwan, Arirang News.