Around 5,000 Chinese tourists visit S. Korea on group tour, biggest group since 2017
Updated: 2020-01-14 04:20:46 KST
At the Korean Folk Village in Yongin, just south of Seoul, groups of Chinese tourists are filtering in one at a time.
With hundreds of Chinese tourists descending on the tourist hotspot, the village is suddenly a hive of activity.
In fact, this group is only a small part of an even bigger group that visited South Korea together.
Some 5-thousand employees from Chinese health food company Yi Yong Tang made the short trip over the West Sea for their firm's corporate incentive tour.
It took 40 flights to bring them over from ten different cities across China.
They used more than one thousand rooms in multiple hotels in Incheon during their six-day stay, which wrapped up on Sunday.
According to the Korea Tourism Organization, the group is expected to have generated some 1.4 million U.S. dollars for the local economy.
However, this tour has a bigger positive impact for the local tourism industry besides its immediate economic effect.
It's the biggest incentive tour South Korea has admitted from China since 2017 when Beijing imposed retaliatory measures against Seoul over its deployment of the U.S. anti-missile system THAAD.
It also follows one last month when 33-hundred employees from a Chinese cosmetic company visited South Korea.
While group visa applications are still banned in most parts of China except for six cities, the gradual inflow of tour groups again is boosting optimism in South Korea's tourism industry.
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"The number of people on incentive tours dipped as low as 13-thousand in 2017. But it has been steadily recovering, reaching 39-thousand in 2018 and almost 100-thousand last year. It's on an upswing."
Based on these signs of recovery, the South Korean government is expecting an even bigger jump this year as it pledges to facilitate incentive tours by developing new content for visitors and enhancing regional tourism.
"Last year, nearly 6 million Chinese tourists came to South Korea, up 27 percent on-year.
And that trend has continued at the start of 2020.
Lee Kyung-eun, Arirang News".