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Trade body says S. Korea should prepare for influx of Chinese travelers

2017/05/19 10:19

SEOUL, May 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea needs to prepare for an influx of Chinese travelers again once the diplomatic tension over the U.S. missile defense system deployment settles down, a local trade group said Friday.

The Shanghai office of the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) released a report projecting that the tourism business from China will more than recover once bilateral relations improve.

China has barred its travel agencies from selling package tours to South Korea since March 15 in protest against Seoul's decision to host a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery. The number of Chinese visitors for the month dropped 40 percent from a year earlier. The number during the Chinese Labor Day extended holiday, which fell on April 29-May 1, was 82 percent down from the same period in 2015.

Hopes for a thaw arose with the inauguration of new South Korean President Moon Jae-in on May 10, who has sent an envoy to Beijing to discuss pending bilateral issues.

Political and economic watchers say that China may be more willing to untangle the situation with the new administration in Seoul. Some Chinese travel agencies are said to have restarted visa services for visits, and a number of online agencies have begun to sell individual travel products for South Korea.

KITA's report advised that South Korea should be well-prepared to meet the demands of Chinese travelers returning to South Korea. Instead of promoting low-budget programs around major tourist attractions, South Korea needs to develop themed travel, such as for relaxing, it said.

The report also recommended that South Korea improve its infrastructure for free travelers to provide them with better transportation means and lodging facilities.