South Korea wins back Vietnamese tourists as MERS fears ease

Thanh Nien News

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Vietnamese tourists are returning to South Korea in large numbers as non-stop promotional efforts seem to help dissipate concerns over the recent MERS outbreak. 
Figures from the Korea Tourism Organization in Hanoi showed that after months of cancellations, the Vietnam market has bounced back with nearly 20,000 people booking tours in October, up 37.2 percent from a year ago.
Le Thi Thu Trang, chief marketing official of the organization, told Saigon Times Online that tourists started to come back in August after canceling tours in June and July.
Trang praised Korea’s various promotion efforts, including deep price cuts, gifts, visa waivers on certain tours, and guaranteed compensation in case of infection.
She said many travel firms have reduced the price of five-day tours to nearly VND15 million (US$672). That is down 25-30 percent from normal prices.
The organization expects that its strong efforts will help the market increase more than 20 percent in terms of visitors this year.
South Korea declared it was safe from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in July, more than two months after the first case was reported. It killed 36 people. 
The outbreak is the largest outside Saudi Arabia, infecting 186 people and at its peak putting nearly 17,000 in quarantine.
It has been traced to a 68-year-old South Korean man who returned from a business trip to the Middle East.
But the country is not completely safe yet as one patient believed to be cured has been rediagnosed with the deadly virus last month.

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