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S Korea reports 16th Mers death; tourism suffers

S Korea reports 16th Mers death; tourism suffers

Vice tourism minister Kim Chong said more than 100,000 foreign travellers have already cancelled trips to South Korea.



By (AFP)

Published: Mon 15 Jun 2015, 1:04 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:58 PM

A woman wears a mask as a precaution against Mers in Seoul, South Korea. AP photo

A woman wears a mask as a precaution against Mers in Seoul, South Korea. AP photo

Seoul — South Korea on Monday reported the 16th death in an expanding Mers outbreak and announced financial aid to the tourism industry, warning earnings could be slashed by up to $2.3 billion as thousands cancel travel plans.

Seoul also declared five new patients — bringing the total number of cases including the deaths to 150 — with fears growing over the impact of the crisis on Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

Vice tourism minister Kim Chong said more than 100,000 foreign travellers — mostly from China — have already cancelled trips to South Korea since the beginning of June and more are expected to follow suit.

“We estimate that... our foreign currency earnings will dwindle by $900 million if the number of foreign travellers drops by 20 per cent or by $2.3 billion if the number plunges by 50 per cent,” Kim said, as the country approaches its peak tourist season of July and August.

He promised financial aid worth 72 billion won ($64 million) to help tourism-related businesses.

“Our tourism industry is faced with a very dire situation,” he said.

A 58-year-old man, who had been suffering from diabetes, is the latest victim of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome which broke out in South Korea less than a month ago.

The five new patients — aged from 39 to 84 — were infected in hospitals in cities including Seoul and Daejeon, 140 kilometres (90 miles) south of the capital.

The outbreak in the South triggered alarm elsewhere in Asia including Hong Kong, which last week advised its citizens against non-essential travel to South Korea. 


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