SEOUL, Dec. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korean duty-free shops are expected to see a more than 50 percent jump in sales generated by foreign visitors by 2017, largely thanks to a continued influx of Chinese tourists and their big spending power, a report showed on Thursday.
According to the report by Meritz Securities, local duty-free shops are expected to rack up 7.1 trillion won (US$6.45 billion) in sales this year, 3.7 trillion won of which is estimated to come from foreign tourists.
Last year, foreign visitors spent 3 trillion won at local duty-free shops, and the comparable figures for 2015 and 2017 are predicted to reach 4.8 trillion won and 6.1 trillion won, the report said.
The sharp rise will be driven by a surge in the number of big-spending Chinese visitors to the country, it said.
Another brokerage house, Yuanta Securities, forecast that the number of Chinese visitors would rise to 7.72 million next year from this year's estimated 5.94 million. The figure will further increase to 17.6 million in 2020, it said.
"Increased flights between China and South Korea will further jack up the number of Chinese tourists coming into the nation next year," said Park Sung-ho, an analyst at Yuanta Securities.
Chinese already overtook Japanese as the No. 1 source of tourists visiting South Korea last year. A recent survey showed that nine out of 10 Chinese tourists on VIP packages to South Korea spent over 50 million won, making them the biggest foreign consumer group.
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