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Seoul to develop new, tailored programs for Chinese tourists

All News 10:13 January 06, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 6 (Yonhap) -- The government will work to develop what it called tailor-made tour programs that will meet the various tastes of tourists from China and other countries, the tourism ministry said Friday.

The new programs to be developed will target individual tourists or small groups, according to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The number of Chinese visitors to South Korea is believed to have jumped over 34 percent on-year to more than 8 million last year.

However, the increase has slowed significantly in recent months, plunging from a 70.2 percent on-year spike in August to a 22.8 percent rise in September, and then to 4.7 percent in October, the state-run Korea Tourism Organization said earlier.

A group of Chinese tourists pose for a picture after arriving at South Korea's Incheon International Airport on Jan. 3, 2017. They were part of some 500 employees from a Chinese company on an incentive tour to South Korea. (Yonhap)

Many believe the recent slowdown may have been caused by a growing tension between South Korea and China over Seoul's decision to deploy a U.S. missile defense system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD).

Earlier reports have said the Beijing government has dismissed requests from the countries' airlines and tour agencies to operate special chartered flights between the two countries that were largely designed to ship large groups of Chinese tourists to South Korea.

The ministry said the new tailored tour programs will help attract a large number of individual Chinese tourists instead.

The photo, taken on Jan. 5, 2017, shows a number of tourists and visitors shopping at a duty-free shop in Seoul, South Korea. A rise in Chinese tourists to South Korea has also led to a sharp increase in the number of duty-free shops here. (Yonhap)

The government plans to spend up to 22.5 billion won (US$18.9 million) to develop programs that will likely include half or one-day trips, the ministry said in its report on its annual objectives.

It will spend an additional 19 billion won to improve the country's tourism infrastructure such as information booklets.

The government will also continue to crack down on low-priced, low-quality tour programs that have long been accused of swindling money out of Chinese tourists, the ministry said.

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