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Time to stop cheapy tourism

Posted December. 07, 2017 08:19,   

Updated December. 07, 2017 08:51


As China has been showing signs of easing restrictions that were in place on South Korea-bound tourism, 32 Chinese group tourists came to Korea on Saturday in about 260 days. It is good news to have Chinese tourists back, often referred to as “youke,” but it is regrettable to see their “cheap tour” practice has not changed at all. The Dong-A Ilbo’s latest reports on Chinese tourists in Korea have pointed out that Korea’s tourism with too much reliance on Chinese tourists and presented new visions for future development.

China’s 9-month restrictions on Korea made the nation’s tour industry devastated because it stuck to attracting Chinese group tourists at low costs. Korean tour companies gave local tour agencies in China to attract customers by giving 80,000 to 200,000 won a person, and filled up the gap with incentives from duty free stores and shopping centers. That’s why so many youke found at Dongdaemun shopping area in the morning and Myeongdong in the afternoon, respectively. Though attracting diverse tourists has been mentioned within the Korean tour industry, it failed to be realized given the situation where even duty free stores claim that they have to rely on the Chinese market in order to produce large profits in a short period of time.

Even with insufficient tour contents, Korea's tourism industry sees reducing rate of foreign tourists’ revisiting Korea at two-time visiting at 12.7 percent and three-time visiting at 6.7 percent, respectively. The more serious problem is that after Chinese group tour came to a halt, such a tourist gathering practice has been expanded to Southeast Asian countries where “Korean tour is cheapie” has been spreading. It is horrendous to imagine how Vietnamese tourists who visited Korea for a 4-day tour package at 35 U.S. dollars would remember Korea after they return to their country.

The Korean government and tourism industry should craft especially for VIP tourists who are seeking healing or medical treatments overseas. The government should also consider lifting its restrictions against the establishment of hospitals treating foreign patients. Local governments need to develop their own unique tour products targeting foreign tourists, who are currently concentrated in the Seoul and Jeju regions. This is the way that the Korean tour industry can make international tourist to revisit the nation. This year alone, the annual 20th Boryeong Mud Festival has successfully attracted more than 620,000 foreigners with its regional specialty of mud. If the current low-price youke tour continues, the nation brand of Korea could see a drop.