A record number of Chinese tourists will arrive in Korea during the weeklong National Day holiday in the first week of October, the peak season for overseas travel for the Chinese.
Around 150,000 Chinese tourists are expected to travel to Korea from Oct. 1-7, up 50 percent from the previous year, according to the Korea Tourism Organization.
The forecast is based on the continued surge of Chinese visitors to Korea in recent months. In July and August, the number of Chinese tourists jumped by around 78 percent from the same period last year.
According to the state tourism agency, Chinese visitors made up half of foreign visitors to Korea during the two summer months. A total of 1,350,909 foreign visitors arrived in Korea, with the number of Chinese tourists standing at 642,258.
|Chinese tourists shop for duty-free Korean beauty products at the Lotte Duty Free COEX store in Samseong-dong, Seoul. (KTO)|
“The reason we see a large influx of Chinese tourists is that there are growing demands for overseas travel in China as the country is still economically fast-growing with a growth rate of 7 percent. The total outbound travel demand increases by an average of 10 percent every year,” said Han Hwa-joon, director of the KTO’s China Team.
According to Han, Korea has become the top alternative travel destination to Japan among the Chinese amid the ongoing territorial dispute between China and Japan.
“Korea has successfully secured the market for Chinese tourists seeking other travel destinations,” Han said.
But Han expects the implementation of the new Chinese travel law, which will come into effect on Oct. 1, to put a temporary halt to the ongoing surge of Chinese tourists to Korea. The law prohibits travel agencies from arranging shopping trips for tour groups and requiring additional payment during scheduled tour programs.
“The number of Chinese tourists is expected to drop by around 30 percent because travel agencies will have to raise prices for group tours as they will no longer be able to receive commission from stores,” said Han.
The average price for a five-day tour package to Korea is around 750,000 won ($693) to 800,000 won, but Han said the price will go up to 1 million won ($924) to 1.2 million won when the new law comes into effect.
“The price increase will have a short-term effect on the number of Chinese group tourists, but that’s going to last from three to six months. There will be a fast recovery to the previous numbers,” Han added.
The new law is expected to deal a blow to some small travel agencies, but the travel industry predicts it will bring positive development to tourism both in China and Korea because it will help improve the quality of tourism by filtering out unfair travel deals that damage national image.
Han noted Korea has strengthened the enforcement of a travel law that bolsters oversight of travel agencies which mainly receive Chinese group tourists.
|Chinese tourists shop in Myeong-dong, a popular shopping district in Seoul. (KTO)|
The KTO plans to hold promotional activities during the National Day holiday such as welcome events for Chinese tourists at the Incheon International Airport, and shopping promotions in major shopping districts in Myeong-dong or Gangnam. It will also promote Korea tourism through an entertainment show featuring Hong Kong actress and singer Linda Chung traveling in Korea and rising actress Liu Shishi’s photographs taken on Jejudo Island.
By Lee Woo-young (email@example.com