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South Korea strategizes to revive Chinese Tourism amid easing geopolitical tensions

China South Korea

South Korea aims to attract 1.5 million Chinese tourists by year-end, leveraging lifted travel bans and offering financial incentives.

Despite enduring a series of economic and geopolitical disputes with China, South Korea is witnessing a thaw in tourism relations. Chinese authorities have recently lifted a longstanding ban on group visits to South Korea, prompting Seoul’s Ministry of Tourism to introduce a multi-faceted strategy aimed at attracting over 1.5 million Chinese tourists by the end of the current year.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, South Korea annually welcomed close to 5 million Chinese visitors. The figures plummeted dramatically, first due to Beijing’s 2017 ban on group visits—a move taken in reaction to South Korea’s deployment of the U.S. THAAD missile defense system—and subsequently due to the pandemic. With the lifting of the travel ban three weeks ago, the Ministry of Tourism is actively working to rekindle interest among Chinese tourists.

Capitalizing on a recent Chinese cruise ship visit to Jeju Island—a leading tourist destination—South Korea is rolling out several incentives. These include opening new visa application centers, expanding air routes, and offering financial incentives like VAT or visa fee refunds for group bookings. Moreover, tourism programs specifically designed to cater to Chinese preferences are under development, as is the integration of prevalent payment platforms such as WeChat Pay and Alipay.

Aimed at boosting GDP by 0.16 points, the government has an ambitious agenda to draw 2 million Chinese visitors by 2023. However, there remains some apprehension about how this initiative may be received domestically, given the rising anti-China sentiments in recent years among the South Korean populace.

Co-Founder & Chief Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | + Articles

Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales. She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.