The South Korean tourism industry suffered massive losses from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak as travelers shunned public venues, a report showed Friday.
South Korea was hit hard by the MERS outbreak since the first confirmed case in late May, losing 1.53 million in the number of inbound travelers from June to September compared with a year ago, according to the report by the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute (KCTI).
The loss from the falling travelers was estimated at 2.23 trillion won ($1.95 billion), considering the average spending of US$1,200 per foreign traveler and the currency exchange rate of 1,100 won per greenback during the period, the report showed.
According to a separate data by the Korea Association of Travel Agents, the number of foreigners who booked accommodations and other tickets fell 82.1 percent between July and August on-year, with its loss valued at 108.5 billion won.
The domestic tourism also grappled with the viral disease as locals shunned crowded places and shopping malls, with the financial damage estimated at some 630 billion won in June alone, the report said.
All these factors are taken into consideration. The KCTI calculated the loss from the MERS outbreak at up to 3.4 trillion won.
“The financial damage was calculated based on the decreased spending both by international and domestic travelers,” Ryu said. “The MERS fallout is considered to have a far bigger impact on the overall economy when considering its ripple effect.”