Lotte shop still barred from tour packages despite mainland visitor arrivals rebound in S.Korea

Source:Global Times Published: 2018/9/10 21:18:39

Mainland visitor arrivals rebound in S.Korea during July

The number of tourists from the Chinese mainland visiting South Korea saw a surge over the past months, as some provinces in China restarted tour packages to the country.

But an expert noted a total rebound still depends on the country's attitude toward the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system.

The Global Times contacted a travel agency in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, on Monday. The agency's customer service agent said that South Korea tour packages are open to tourists now, and the earliest one - set to depart on September 18 - is fully booked.

The customer service employee also said that the five-day trip schedule will not include a visit to Lotte Duty Free shop, which was once a must-go for tour groups from China.

Re-opening of tour packages indicates an easing situation between the two countries, but the restriction on Lotte elements also showed China's clear and consistent attitude, which is "a total rebound still depends on South Korea's attitude toward THAAD," a Beijing-based industry analyst surnamed Jiang told the Global Times.

Jiang also noted that it might be difficult for South Korea to win back Chinese customers in the short term though the local accommodation and catering industry would get an increase in Chinese tourists in the golden travel week starting from October 1.

Xu Xiaolei, manager of marketing at China's CYTS Tours Holding Co, told the Global Times on Monday that CYTS hasn't started group travel service to South Korea yet, and it is not prepared to do so during the coming peak tourism season.

"Whether to restart the service will largely depend on the market, but so far, the number of people who showed an interest is still limited, so we will wait and see," Xu said.

Chinese online travel platform Ctrip and Lvmama also told the Global Times that South Korea tour packages are still not available on their websites.

According to a recent report from South Korea's Yonhap, the number of Chinese tourists visiting South Korea in July reached 41,300, an increase of 45.9 percent from July 2017. The report also noted that East China's Jiangsu Province has recently lifted restrictions on tour packages to South Korea after Beijing, Shanghai and several other provinces.

However, South Korean tour packages could only be sold offline and are not allowed to be promoted on the internet. Tourism products must not contain Lotte elements, the report said. Lotte Group firms supplied part of a golf course the group owned to house the THAAD missiles.

Newspaper headline: Mainland visitor arrivals rebound in S.Korea during July


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