Growth rate of Chinese tourists to S. Korea plummets
By Ock Hyun-ju, The Korea Herald/Asia News Network
January 15, 2014, 12:05 am TWN
The growth rate of the number of Chinese tourists visiting Korea has plunged since Chinese authorities enforced a new law in October that restricts low-cost travel packages, data showed.
According to tourism arrival statistics released Monday by the state-run Korea Culture and Tourism Institute, the number of Chinese tourists arriving in Korea for the January-September period in 2013 was 343 million, up 59.1 percent from the same period a year earlier.
But in October, the growth rate of the number of inbound Chinese tourists to Korea has plummeted 48 percent from the same month a year earlier due in part to the new Chinese tourism law, the institute said.
The growth of the number of Chinese arrivals soared in July and August, recording 76.4 percent and 78.9 percent, respectively, before the Chinese Tourism Law took effect on Oct. 1, the data said.
The Chinese government enacted the law as part of its efforts to clamp down on "low-quality" tours that often coerce tourists into unwanted shopping or day-tours to receive kickbacks from tourist shops or restaurants.
The rapid growth of Chinese tourism in Korea has been greatly deterred by price hikes in Korean tour products following the New Chinese Law, which prohibits Chinese travel agents from selling "low-cost" tours.
While the Chinese have been Korea's No. 1 inbound tourism group, with 36.5 percent of the total tourists coming from the country, a travel agency official said, "The total number of Chinese tourists will not decline anytime soon, only the growth rate."
"We cannot fight against the Chinese government. We are still looking for ways to cope with the situation. But we agree we should upgrade our offerings to accommodate rising Chinese demand," he added.
But a Hana Tour official said, "I think the new law enforcement is a positive move for a long-term development of tourism industry in Korea."