SEOUL, Feb. 16 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s hospitality industry has cut nearly 370,000 jobs over the past year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, data showed Tuesday.

Local accommodations and restaurants had a combined workforce of 1.965 million as of January, down 367,000 from a year earlier, according to the data from Statistics Korea.

January marked the first time since February 2020 that the country’s hospitality sector had fewer than 2 million workers.

The tumble comes as South Korea has been gripped by the novel coronavirus since late January last year, when the country reported its first confirmed case.

Local hotels, inns and restaurants have been eliminating more jobs as the country suffers from second and third waves of COVID-19 infections.

In the wake of the third wave of the pandemic, the hospitality industry cut their payrolls by 313,000 in December, up from the low-200,000 range in September and October following the second wave.

The hospitality sector was not alone. The local wholesale and retail industry also took a big hit from tough social distancing measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

Local wholesalers and retailers eliminated 218,000 jobs in January, up from 197,000 in December and 188,000 in October, according to the data.