The number of South Korean travelers going overseas fell to a 16-month low in March, apparently due to the recent earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan, the top destination for outbound tourists, data showed Tuesday.
According to the data released by the Justice Ministry and the Korea Tourism Organization, the number of South Koreans going overseas came to 868,694 last month, down 8.6 percent from 950,185 in March 2010.
The figure for March is also the lowest since November 2009 when 721,940 South Koreans went overseas.
Such a large drop comes almost solely from a decline in the number of South Koreans visiting Japan, which was nearly halved to 89,100 last month from 169,400 in the same period last year.
“The number dropped significantly as March and April are traditionally low season and the disaster in Japan further pulled down demand,” an official from a local travel agency said. “We expect it to pick up from May when there are many holidays.”