Chinese tourists still missing in Korea, but improvement may be on the horizon
China’s frosty economic relationship that includes the travel and tourism exchange with South Korea started to show early signs of a turnaround in recent days.
According to reports, the long-stagnant economic relationship between South Korea and China, prompted by tensions over the controversial missile defense system that was deployed is showing early signs of a revival, especially in sectors such as investment, tourism, and retail.
Myeongdong, a well-renowned shopping street in Seoul, was often packed with Chinese tourists, but after the two countries’ relationship went sour, Myeongdong became more and more deserted. Recently. Recently a slight increase of Chinese tourists at Myeongdong are noticeable.
A report by the Seoul-based Aju Business Daily published on Monday noted that a 25-people tour group from Shanghai will arrive at Jeju Island in South Korea around November 28, the first tour group from China to South Korea since political disputes cut off organized commercial tourism between the two countries. It did not give details about the organizers and participants of the tour.
China’s trade with South Korea also rose by 11.4 percent year-on-year in the first ten months of this year, customs data showed on November 8.
According to an Aju Business Daily report published on October 26, in the first nine months of this year, South Korea received about 3.19 million visitors from China, down almost 50 percent compared to a year ago.
As revival signs emerged over recent days, South Korean retailers rolled up their sleeves to cater to Chinese consumers. For example, in mid-November, the Seoul-based Shinsegae duty-free store welcomed some Chinese Internet celebrities to help advertise some of their products, with the aim of attracting more Chinese customers to the country.
Furthermore, the Seoul-based Shilla duty-free store has also designed a special app for Chinese tourists where they can exchange their tax bills for shopping coupons.
A customer service staff member from Utourworld.com Inc, a Shanghai-based travel agency specializing in overseas tourism, said that the company canceled all its tours to South Korea around May and has not yet restarted them. She also said she is not sure whether those tours will be re-launched in the future.
China CYTS Tours Holding Co, also a travel agency, made similar comments.
Shanghai-based Spring Airlines, said that his company is running 32 flights to South Korea in the 2017 winter/spring season, compared with 46 flights in the same period in 2016.
“Recently, we have not added new routes to South Korea .
A representative from Lotte China, whose business has slumped a lot due to the company’s deep involvement with the THAAD issue, said that so far, the company’s business in China has not seen any significant improvements. She also said that the company is formulating new plans concerning the Chinese market, but has not confirmed the plans yet.
Time will heal the situation slowly.