South Korea travel sector won’t benefit from China’s Golden Week: agencies

By Dong Feng Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/13 21:08:39

With the approaching of China's Golden Week, the weeklong National Day holidays that begin on October 1, millions of Chinese tourists will head abroad, but many will shun South Korea due to the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, tourism professionals told the Global Times on Wednesday.

During the Golden Week, more than 6 million Chinese plan to travel overseas and tourist numbers are headed for record highs, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Saturday, citing data from domestic travel services provider Ctrip.

A tour guide with C&D International Travel Service told the Global Times on Wednesday that the company had halted group tours to South Korea, and on the company's travel menu, there were no options related to South Korea. She said that to her knowledge, no travel agency could organize group tours to South Korea. As for independent travelers, they must make their own arrangements. No option for South Korea was found on aoyou.com, another travel site.

An employee at Ctrip's service hotline told the Global Times that since March this year, no options related to South Korea have been available, and considering the tense bilateral relationship, the company doesn't even suggest any destinations in South Korea for Chinese tourists.

The Global Times also called tuniu.com, an online travel agency, and checked with tour guides at Caissa Tongsheng (Beijing) Investment Co and Xingtianxia International Travel Service. Every time, the answers were the same.

Statistics from the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) showed that in the first half of this year, the number of outbound tourists was 62.03 million, an increase of 5.1 percent over the same period of last year, according to CNTA's website.

However, due to the THAAD issue, Chinese tourists heading to South Korea stood at only 7.76 million from January to July, down 20.9 percent year-on-year.

In July, 281,263 Chinese tourists visited South Korea, down 69.3 percent from a year earlier, according to a report on Beijing-based haiwainet.cn on Wednesday.

A Chinese representative for South Korea-based Asiana Airlines told the Global Times that starting from the end of October, the number of flights to Guilin, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region will be reduced compared with last year's winter season flights, although other flights will remain the same. Meanwhile, four or five flights will use smaller planes.

Korean Air and other low-cost airline companies have already reduced services to China. Being not so dependent to Chinese market, these carriers are expanding flights to Japan and Southeast Asia, the Korea Times reported on Monday.

Spring Airlines has suspended the routes from Ningbo in Zhejiang Province and Yangzhou in Jiangsu Province to Jeju island in March this year, and the restart will depend on the development of political situation, Mao Yi, the spokesman of the company said.



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