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Korea to create tourism boom to support local industry

The South Korean government said Thursday that it will make a concerted effort to stimulate a new tourism boom in a bid to support the local industry, which has been hit hard by a protracted diplomatic row between Seoul and Beijing over the stationing of a US missile defense system here.

The number of Chinese visitors has beyen on a sharp decline since the Beijing government imposed a ban on selling group tourist packages heading to South Korea in March in retaliation for Seoul's THAAD deployment. It fell 9.6 percent on-year in the first three months of 2017 and plunged 65.7 percent in the next three months through June.
 
A group of Chinese tourists, who came to South Korea during China`s weeklong holiday, visits the Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul. (Yonhap)
A group of Chinese tourists, who came to South Korea during China`s weeklong holiday, visits the Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul. (Yonhap)

As a result, the food and accommodation sector has been struggling with the sharp drop in demand from Chinese tourists, while some South Korean retailers doing business in China experienced a steep decline in sales.

In a policy meeting, the South Korean government unveiled a plan to revitalize the local tourism industry by developing new tour packages, and giving temporary visa waivers and railway passes to foreign visitors.

Also foreign visitors will get temporary tax refunds on hotel charges and enjoy tax-free shopping of goods worth 300,000 won ($262), up from the current 200,000 won.

The government will also give out emergency loans to auto part exporters that face a cash crunch and extend the maturity of credits given by state-run policy lenders.

As a way to diversify the export market, the government will help South Korean companies win overseas infrastructure-building projects in the Middle East. It will put the issue high on the agenda at diplomatic talks, including a bilateral high-ranking meeting with Saudi Arabia slated for October. (Yonhap)
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