|A banner celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year is hung in the bustling shopping district of Myeong-dong, Seoul, Monday (Yonhap)|
Korea will see a large influx of Chinese tourists during the Lunar New Year holiday starting this weekend.
According to the Korea Tourism Organization, more than 80,000 Chinese tourists will visit Korea from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6, up 12 percent from the holiday period last year, when 71,000 Chinese tourists came to Korea.
Throughout last year, about 4 million Chinese travelers visited Korea, making up 35.5 percent of the total foreign tourist arrivals. The state organization anticipates the number will exceed 5 million this year.
As the Chinese were the biggest spenders among foreign tourists in Korea, Korean tourism businesses and retailers are making efforts to lure them with large discounts, rewards and tour programs.
According to the KTO, a Chinese tourist spends a daily average of 64,000 won ($59), more than Japanese tourists (47,000 won) and Koreans (43,000 won).
The Korea Grand Sale, an annual tourism promotion event that runs until Feb. 16, is offering discounts of up to 50 percent at 27,567 stores throughout the country, including department stores, duty-free shops, supermarkets, convenience stores and theaters.
Shinsegae Department Store is offering discounts of up to 30 percent for Chinese customers during the sale period. Those who buy more than 300,000 won worth of goods will receive gift certificates worth 5 percent of the purchase amount.
Lotte Department Store, which saw a 113 percent increase in sales to Chinese tourists between 2012 and 2013, will hold a lucky draw with over 50 million won in prizes for Chinese tourists who make a purchase of over 80,000 won. The event will take place at its Sogong-dong and Jamsil branches in Seoul and in Busan.
Hyundai Department Store is cutting 5 percent off the price of purchases made with China UnionPay cards and a foreigner-only membership card.
Chinese tourists will be offered souvenirs and discount coupons provided by the Korea Tourism Organization when they arrive at Incheon International Airport from Jan. 27 to Feb. 5.
A guided tour arranged by the organization filled up less than a week after it began to receive applications online. A total of 100 tourists signed up for the tour, which will be guided by a Korean college student to four regions including Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Gangwon Province.
“Chinese tourists have taken the largest share of Korea’s inbound tourism market. What matters now is raising the quality of their travel experiences. Korea’s travel industry has been preparing to offer attractive programs to bring them back over and over again,” said Seo Young-choong, director of the China team at the KTO.
By Lee Woo-young (email@example.com