The Dokdo islets are drawing more attention as a summer getaway for South Koreans, while diplomatic and economic conflicts between Korea and Japan show no signs of abating.
The number of visitors to Dokdo is on the rise, while the number of outbound travelers to Japan is plummeting since the Abe administration slapped retaliatory measures against Korea.
A total of 172,516 people have made the trip to Dokdo this year, up 29.7 percent from the same period last year, according to data from Ulleung-gun, North Gyeongsang Province.
The Transport Ministry data, meanwhile, showed that 467,249 passengers departed for Japan from Incheon International Airport from July 16-31, down 13.4 percent from the June 16-30 period.
Korean travel agencies and transportation companies are also launching more promotion packages for Dokdo.
Daezer Shipping, for instance, offers a 30 percent discount on ferry tickets between Ulleungdo and Dokdo for travelers who have canceled flights to Japan. The event will continue until the end of next month. JH Ferry plans to introduce a three-day travel package to Ulleungdo that includes a one-day trip to Dokdo.
“We have received more inquiries from people in recent weeks asking about how they can visit Dokdo,” an official from the Dokdo Management Office told The Korea Herald on Wednesday.
“I’ve always wanted to come to Dokdo, but with Japan’s economic retaliation and all, I thought I have to visit the island this year,” a 37-year-old father of two daughters who made the trip to Dokdo on Wednesday was quoted as saying by Yonhap News.
Meanwhile, two Japanese tourists were unable to board a ferry on Ulleungdo that was scheduled to depart for Dokdo on Sunday. The ferry operator told local TV station MBC that it declined to sell the tickets to the Japanese tourists due to the rising tensions between the two countries.
By Choi Ji-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)