Hokkaido Officials Welcome S.korean Tourists

Hokkaido officials welcome S.Korean tourists

Local government officials in the northern Japanese prefecture of Hokkaido have been making efforts to directly welcome South Korean tourists.

It comes with Japan-South Korea ties at a low point over trade and historical issues.

On Monday, the officials greeted tourists at New Chitose Airport and offered welcome gifts such as fans, leaflets and jelly made with locally produced melons.

A South Korean in his 20s said he didn't hesitate to visit Japan, and that he is grateful for the warm welcome.

Prefectural official Mizuhiro Takano said a smaller number of tourists from South Korea will deal a blow to the local economy.

He said he hopes the efforts of the officials will convey to South Koreans that they should not hesitate to visit Hokkaido.

South Koreans account for a large percentage of foreign visitors to the prefecture, along with people from China and Taiwan.

About 640,000 South Koreans visited in fiscal 2017. The figure is up more than 50 percent from the year before, and outpaces the increase in Chinese and Taiwanese visitors.

However, some flights connecting Hokkaido and South Korea have recently been cancelled following a deterioration in bilateral ties between Tokyo and Seoul.

The Hokkaido government says the number of flights will be 58 as of October 1, down by half from August 1.