As the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome spreads in South Korea, many Asian travelers are rethinking their plans alongside official government travel warnings. Meg Teckman reports.
South Korea's MERS outbreak putting travelers from Hong Kong on red alert. Hong Kong issuing official warning to suggest tourists "avoid non-essential travel'' to South Korea. As South Korea nears 100 confirmed cases, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is causing tens of thousands of tourists to change their travel plans, with more than 600 tour groups from Hong Kong canceled for the month of June alone. But Hong Kong's travel industry council isn't worrying about the cancelations: (SOUNDBITE) (English) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TRAVEL INDUSTRY COUNCIL OF HONG KONG, JOSEPH TUNG, SAYING: "We have a lot of destinations which we can offer - Taiwan, Japan, Southeast Asia. And I'm sure that if they cannot go to Korea, of course they will be choosing other destinations. And I understand that some of the agents have already arranged to talk to the passengers, ask them to go to other destinations rather than Korea." Experts from the World Health Organization setting up a joint mission with Korean officials to assess the MERS situation but so far the WHO has not recommended any curbs on travel. And domestically, cautious Koreans are scaling back on their own leisure activities to avoid infection - with the gate at a Seoul baseball match halving over the weekend. Moviegoers are also opting to stay home - ticket sales at cinemas slumping 35 percent in the weeks following the outbreak. The Seoul Grand Zoo is doing its part to avoid drawing crowds by canceling a rose festival. Visitors who still trickle in are informed that the camels - animals some experts blame for spreading the virus to humans - are MERS-free. ENDS