Local travel agencies are preparing cut-price deals for when tours resume to South Korea, which has been hit by Middle East respiratory syndrome. Joseph Tung Yao-chung, executive director of the Travel Industry Council, said many outbound operators were getting ready to resume tours to South Korea after they were cancelled last month. The decision was made in response to the government's red travel warning following the Mers outbreak in the country. The outbound travel alert is expected to be cancelled at the end of the month, since there have been no new Mers cases reported in the country since the beginning of the month. One of the city's biggest agencies, Hong Thai Travel, announced it would resume tours to South Korea next month. Its director, Jason Wong Chun-tat, said more than 100 tours to the country had been cancelled since last month, with 70 per cent of customers switching to Japan, Thailand or Taiwan. He said Mers had dampened Hongkongers' desire to travel and the firm had therefore lowered its estimate of the number of people signing up for tours during the summer holidays by five percentage points. To lure Hongkongers back to South Korea, Hong Thai was introducing a cheaper package to Seoul. A five-day trip to the capital, for example, will cost HK$1,999, down more than 30 per cent from the cost in May. Another firm, Wing On Travel, said it would introduce "very attractive deals" on Monday. Simon Ma Sai-man, deputy general manager in charge of Asia and long-haul travel, dismissed concerns that most people would already have booked their summer holidays. "It really depends on where they are going and whether there are visa requirements … Some could sign up for the tour just 10 days before the flight departs." Tung also believed the response of Hongkongers to the deals should be "quite good". "Airlines are offering cheap tickets and tour charges are going to be reduced. It is going to be attractive," he said. More than 200,000 Hongkongers visited South Korea in the first five months of the year, up almost 40 per cent from the same period last year, according to the Korea Tourism Organisation. Data for June is not yet available. A total of 186 Mers cases have been reported in South Korea since the outbreak started. There have been 36 fatalities. Most of the cases were recorded in healthcare facilities.