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(LEAD) S. Korea aims to attract 8 million Chinese tourists this year

All News 21:00 January 20, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with comments by Park)

BEIJING, Jan. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye voiced hope Wednesday that many Chinese tourists will visit Seoul as she celebrated the year of visiting Korea in China.

In 2014, Park and her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping designated 2015 and 2016 as the year of visiting China and the year of visiting South Korea, respectively.

"I am pleased to invite Chinese people to South Korea," Park said in a video message at a ceremony marking "The Year of Visit to Korea" in China. She also asked Chinese tourists to visit South Korea and enjoy their trips.

South Korea is exempting visa fees for Chinese group travelers and will add six new air routes between the two nations with the aim of attracting 8 million Chinese tourists this year, South Korean officials said.

Riding the wave of the popularity of K-pop and culture in China, South Korea's Culture Minister Kim Jong-deok said his ministry will develop various tour packages specialized in fashion, beauty, culture and leisure.

"We are aiming to develop attractive tourism content and improve tourism infrastructure to help Chinese tourists visit Korea again," Kim said.

As part of the plan, South Korea will cut the age of Chinese people who are eligible for multiple entry visas to 55 from 60, the ministry said in a statement.

From February, six new air routes will be launched between South Korea and China, according to the statement.

The number of Chinese tourists visiting South Korea fell 2.3 percent on year to 5.98 million people last year, hit by the outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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