SEOUL, April 5 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s four major travel agencies have cut nearly half of their workforces over the past two years in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, data showed Tuesday.
The four players — Hana Tour, Modetour Network, Yellow Balloon Tour and Very Good Tour — had a combined headcount of 2,385 as of the end of last year, down 48 percent from two years earlier, according to the data from the Financial Supervisory Service.
The workforce of industry leader Hana Tour plunged 52.8 percent to 1,180 over the cited period, with that of No. 2 player Modetour Network sinking 42.6 percent to 665.
Yellow Balloon Tour’s headcount plunged 46.1 percent to 298, and that of Very Good tour shrank 35.3 percent to 242.
Their job cuts came as those tour agencies remained in the red during the two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Hana Tour posted a consolidated operating loss of 127.3 billion won (US$105 million) in 2021, losing money for the second consecutive year. The three remaining firms also saw their operating losses widen in 2021 from a year earlier.
Stung by the coronavirus pandemic, South Korea’s casino operators and duty-free shops have also been forced to reduce their payrolls over the past two years amid growing deficits, separate industry data showed.
State-owned Kangwon Land Inc., the country’s only casino open to locals, had a workforce of 3,858 as of end-December 2021, down 25 percent from two years earlier.
Another state casino operator Grand Korea Leisure Co. (GKL) serving foreigners only and private casino operator Paradise Group also cut payrolls by 10.4 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively, over the cited period.
Two major duty-free shop operators — Hotel Shilla and Hotel Lotte — reduced their workforces by 11.7 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively, over the two-year period.
Industry watchers said the local tour industry may get a slight boost from Seoul’s recent move to relax coronavirus restrictions on both inbound and outbound travelers.