Tourism and duty-free industries hopeful about Korea-China relations
As Korea and China are set to improve their relationship, Korea's tourism and duty-free shopping industries are raising their hopes of better days.
The tourism industry believes that the Chinese government's group tour ban to Korea would be relaxed soon. A travel agency in Hebei posted an Internet ad recently for a group tour program to Korea in November at the price of 1,480 yuan (USD 223). China's largest online travel agency Ctrip also put out group tour programs to Korea for the first time in seven months.
Thenation's duty-free industry, which saw their sales plunge since the Chinese government's retaliatory measures in response to THAAD, also expects their sales revenue to soar any time soon. Lotte Duty Free, the No. 1 company in the industry, is slowly stepping up its promotional efforts to Chinese tourists through social networking sites such as Baidu.
An official with Shilla Duty Free said, "Even though the foot traffic of Chinese tourists abruptly discontinued since March this year, we haven't scaled back our business hours and sales floor, thinking the current tension with China would soon go away. We will purchase more cosmetic items that Chinese customers like."
Others, however, warned that Chinese tourists may not come back in droves quickly enough. An official with the Korea Tourism Organization said, "Even thoughthe Chinese government has not announced its position on the matter yet, it istrue that the bilateral relations will get better. Still, we have to be careful as the thaw in relationship at the government level doesn't necessarily mean good relations at people level immediately."
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