As Chinese tourists continue to swarm Jeju, South Korea’s largest island and a popular tourist resort, residents are asking if the huge boost they give to the local economy is enough to compensate for the big mess they also leave behind.
According to South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, the Jeju International Airport is often turned into a big dump with plastic bags, paper boxes and other garbage scattered across the floor of the terminal for international flights.
Most of the trash was found to have been dumped by Chinese tourists, who remove the wrappings of duty-free goods purchased outside and picked up in an area near the departure gates in order to reduce the size and weight of their luggage before boarding.
One resident said in a Facebook post that airport staff always have their hands full cleaning up the mess left by the tourists, which could pile up like a small hill.
He said authorities should consider imposing a fee on visitors to fund the hiring of additional staff and equipment to dispose of the trash.
On a Sunday, airport cleaners could collect more than 100 bags of garbage, with each bag filled with 100 kilograms of trash, the newspaper said.
The littering problem has been troubling the airport authority, which has already designated two zones for handling trash from packages and wrappings of duty-free goods.
An official from the Jeju branch of Korea Airports Corporation, which is responsible for maintenance of the terminals, said more manpower, including cleaning staff, and a consultant will be added by the end of the month to deal with the problem as well as remind tourists of how to properly dispose of their trash.
The Chosun Ilbo story has spurred intense online discussions in China, according to Global Times.
One netizen said the littering accusation against Chinese tourists is quite fair because it actually happens, but some believe the problem is not as bad as the newspaper seeks to portray it.
In a commentary published on Wednesday, Yonhap News called on the airport management to review the design of facilities and human traffic flows at the terminal, noting that the delivery points for duty-free goods are very close to the boarding gates and it is not easy to find trash bins in the waiting areas.
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