|Incheon International Airport is crowded with summer vacationers in this Aug. 5 file photo. / Yonhap|
By Kim Hyun-bin
A drastic drop in the number of travelers to Japan is likely during the Chuseok holiday, Incheon International Airport Corp. (IIAC) said Wednesday, as there is no end in sight for the Boycott Japan movement, sparked by a bilateral trade row between Seoul and Tokyo.
Korea starts the four-day weekend holiday today
According to the IIAC, a total of 50,648 Koreans are expected to fly to Japan from Wednesday to Sunday, down 52.7 percent from 119,572 during last year's holiday.
The daily average of Korean travelers to Japan also took a hit from 19,928 in 2018 to 11,294 in 2019.
"Korean travelers who were planning to visit Japan have changed their destinations to China or Southeast Asian countries due to the ongoing Boycott Japan movement," an IIAC official said.
Since the Japanese government announced export restrictions against companies here in July, Koreans have refrained from visiting the neighboring country, resulting in a 19.5 percent year-on-year decline for August ― from 1.2 million to 970,000. In July, 1.12 million visited Japan.
Currently, local airlines operate flights to 28 Japanese cities and 19 of them saw drastic reductions in the number of passengers flying from Korea in July and August.
The number of travelers to 10 out of the 19 cities decreased by more than 20 percent, and Saga Prefecture saw the steepest fall of 55.3 percent.
The drop in travelers departing for Japan will take a toll on the total number of people using the airport for the Chuseok holidays.
The IIAC expects 181,233 people to use the airport daily during the given period ― a decrease of 3.1 percent compared to last year.
Sept. 15, the last day of the holiday, is expected to be the busiest with 202,714 people expected to use the airport.
To ease the drastic surge in passenger traffic, the IIAC set the holiday period as a special traffic control period and plans to dispatch 440 additional personnel that will help guide travelers and ease movement at the airport.
The airport will extend hours at the departure lounges, and to reduce waiting time, the IIAC plans to operate storage services for people that brought in prohibited and restricted baggage items such as flammable items, gases and pressurized containers.
The Korea Airport Corp. (KAC) also initiated a special traffic measures period and increased support personnel and finished conducting inspections of key facilities.
The KAC operates 14 local airports excluding Incheon Airport and expects a total of 962,000 people to use domestic flights and 307,000 to fly internationally, an increase of 2.5 percent from the last Chuseok holiday.