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Seoul offered visa-free stays of 15 days during the Games, lucky draws, and sent a top-level tourism chief to China in September to promote the event.
Seoul offered visa-free stays of 15 days during the Games, lucky draws, and sent a top-level tourism chief to China in September to promote the event.

S. Korea Olympics Fail to Attract Chinese Tourists

S. Korea Olympics Fail to Attract Chinese Tourists

 Chinese tourists appear to be giving South Korea the cold shoulder despite efforts to win them back with the upcoming Winter Olympics.
Once a favorite holiday destination for mainland Chinese, they started taking their tourist dollars elsewhere when Beijing banned the sale of package tours to South Korea in March.
That was after relations between the two countries turned sour when Seoul decided to deploy a US anti-missile system – Terminal High Altitude Area Defense – to counter North Korean nuclear threats, which Beijing in turn saw as a threat to its security, South China Morning Post reported.
Some package tours have since resumed, and there are no restrictions on individual travelers from mainland China going to South Korea. Tensions began to ease after Korean President Moon Jae-in visited China in December, with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang remarking during their meeting that the warmth of “springtime” had returned to bilateral relations.
Seoul had high hopes that the Winter Olympics could revive interest from China – especially since it overlaps with the Lunar New Year holiday.
It offered visa-free stays of 15 days during the Games, lucky draws, and sent a top-level tourism chief to China in September to promote the event.
But the lucrative “springtime” for the tourist industry has yet to materialize.
The Winter Olympics organizing committee said it expected some 200,000 Chinese to visit its east coast city Pyeongchang when it hosted the Games, which will be held from February 9 to 25.

  Unsold Tickets  
But as of January 19 – three weeks before the Games – only 69.7% of 1.1 million tickets had been sold, both to local and international spectators, according to the organizing committee.
The committee would not provide a breakdown of how many of those tickets had been purchased by Chinese, but its tourism bureau said it had not seen any recovery in numbers since the travel ban on group tours was partially lifted.
The travel ban dealt a heavy blow to the tourism sector. Latest figures from the tourism bureau show that the total number of Chinese visitors halved to 4.1 million last year from 2016, when more than 50% of South Korea’s 17 million incoming tourists were Chinese citizens.
Chinese still make up the largest percentage of South Korea’s visitors, but the industry was expected to lose some $10.89 billion in revenue from Chinese tourists last year – based on per capita spending of $1,956 in 2016 – according to a report from the Hyundai Research Institute in September.
According to a January report from Ctrip – China’s largest online booking website with 300 million registered users – not even “a single group” of Chinese had organized to go to South Korea during the New Year holiday from late December to early January.

 

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