Jeju tourism industry hit hard by coronavirus
Jeju Island is considering suspending a visa-free entry program for Chinese visitors in a bid to prevent the inflow of those infected with the deadly coronavirus virus.
The island is a major destination for Chinese visitors, partly due to the visa-waiver system. About 797,300 Chinese people accounted for 98 percent of all foreign visitors who made visa-free visits to the island last year.
Since 2002, South Korea has implemented a visa-free system under which all foreign visitors, except for those from countries designated by the justice minister, can stay on the southern resort island of Jeju for up to 30 days without a visa.
Jeju Island, normally a popular destination among Chinese tourists, is suffering the blowback of the current coronavirus outbreak. Duty free shops normally buzzing with lines of Chinese shoppers have been empty the past few days. Sales in duty free shops for this week dropped by as much as 60% compared to last week. According to the Jeju Tourism Association, the number of tourists visiting the island on Jan. 24 increased by 20.3% compared to the same day last year, but saw a sudden reduction of 20-25% for Jan. 26 to 28 compared to the same period last year.
With the virus rapidly spreading in the neighboring country, the island's residents have called via social media for the regional government to take measures to prevent Chinese people from visiting the island without a visa.
Maritime Business World