S. Korea to hold tourism fair in Beijing

Seoul, South Korea's tourism promotion agency said Monday it will hold a fair in Beijing this week in the latest bid to lure back Chinese tourists.

More than 70 tourism-related companies and institutions from South Korea plan to take part in the one-day expo -- the largest event meant to attract Chinese visitors to South Korea since late 2016 -- on Wednesday, according to the Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO).

Chinese nationals accounted for 47 per cent of the 17.2 million foreigners who visited South Korea in 2016, but the number of Chinese tourists fell 48.3 per cent to 4.16 million in 2017, South Korean News Agency (Yonhap) reported.

The sharp decline is blamed on a Chinese ban on South Korea-bound group tours in 2017 in protest of Seoul's decision to deploy a US anti-missile system in southern South Korea.

China has since partially lifted the ban, but restrictions on tours on cruise ships and chartered planes, as well as online promotion for tour programs to South Korea, are still in place, according to the KTO.

The tourism promotion agency said it expects the upcoming event to contribute to the restoration of ties between the two countries' tourism industries and help the South Korean firms prepare for the normalisation of their relationship.

"It is true that domestic tourism and retail industries are having a difficult time due to the drop in the number of incoming Chinese tourists," said Han Hwa-joon, the director of the KTO's China team.

"We will continue our efforts to improve Chinese tourists' satisfaction of their trips to South Korea by developing new high-quality tourism products."

Source: Bahrain News Agency