A total of 379,891 Chinese mainland tourists visited South Korea in June, 49% more than in June 2017, according to data published by the Korea Tourism Organization. A spokesman for online travel platform Mafengwo.com told Global Times that search popularity of South Korea-related tourism products in July grew 37.8% over June, underscoring the strong growth trend.
The growth in visitors was due to individual travelers, as big tour groups from China stopped visiting South Korea after it installed US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missiles in 2017, industry insiders said. A representative of Shanghai-based tourism company Lvmama told Global Times that the company still doesn't offer group tours to South Korea.
South Korean retailers are betting on continued tourist growth, as local media reported growth in sales to Chinese tourists in 2018. Retail giants Lotte and Shinsegae are negotiating a deal with Chinese payment platforms to ease the purchasing process for Chinese visitors, according to a report by Chinese news site haiwainet.cn, which cited South Korean media.
Even with present growth trends, Chinese visitors to South Korea are still well behind pre-THAAD levels. Chinese mainland visitors to South Korea in June 2016 reached 758,534, almost double 2018 levels.
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