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S. Korean minister confident of attracting 8 mln Chinese tourists this year

All News 17:35 January 21, 2016

BEIJING, Jan. 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Culture Minister Kim Jong-deok said Thursday that he expects South Korea to meet its target of attracting 8 million Chinese tourists this year, while strengthening regulations against low-cost tour packages.

"I think that there would be no difficulty in meeting this year's target of attracting 8 million Chinese tourists, helped by a growing base of the middle-income class," Kim told reporters during his visit to Beijing.

Kim announced the target on Wednesday as he hosted a ceremony marking "Visit Korea Year" in China.

To meet the target, South Korea is exempting visa fees for Chinese group travelers for all of this year and will add six new air routes between the two nations starting next month.

Riding the wave of the popularity of K-pop and culture in China, Kim said his ministry will develop various tour packages specialized in fashion, beauty, culture and leisure.

"For Chinese tourists who live in rural areas, not big cities, they tend to prefer amusement parks in South Korea," Kim said, adding such amusement parks could help attract more Chinese tourists.

Tourism ministers from South Korea, China and Japan held an annual trilateral meeting.

Kim said he would propose the three nations to jointly develop tour packages at this year's trilateral meeting.

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 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.

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