A sharp decline in outbound passengers at Incheon International Airport in South Korea has significantly affected retail outlets in the facility.

Businesses are witnessing a steep decline in sales due to an over 30% drop in Korean overseas trips in the first six months of the year. As a result many shops have already close down due to escalating operational costs.

The Westin Chosun Hotel, which operates four restaurants in the airport, has informed the International Airport Corporation (IIAC), that it will close its restaurants due to sales decline, although a decision about the closure has not yet been finalised.

the IIAC reported that in the first half of 2009 nearly 13.6 million people used the airport, a decrease of 12.3% from the previous year. The decrease was due to the spread of the (H1N1) influenza A virus and the global economic crisis.

Duty-free shops are the most affected as they have to cope with high rents even as sales drop.

The IIAC also reported that in the second half of the year, overseas travellers are likely to decline by 20% year-on-year.

Shops within the airport are expected to falter throughout 2009.