DestinationsThe popular shopping area has seen a dip in Chinese travellers after an order from the Chinese authorities to halt group tours.

Who’s missing from Myeongdong in South Korea? The Chinese.

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Caption: Myeongdong, a popular shopping district in Seoul, South Korea.
Caption: Myeongdong, a popular shopping district in Seoul, South Korea. Photo Credit: plus99/iStock

The ban took effect on March 15 and comes as retaliation for the deployment of the Thaad system in Korea.

In the recent months, the popular shopping district of Myeongdong in Seoul, South Korea has been almost devoid of Chinese travellers, after Chinese authorities banned its travel agencies to halt group travel to Seoul and other Korean destinations.

The ban took effect on March 15 and comes as retaliation for the deployment of Thaad, a United States Army anti-ballistic missile system, in Korea. 

Other popular tourist sites in Seoul are bracing for another blast, something worse than a dip in number of Chinese tourists, according to The Korea Herald.

A tour guide of five years for Chinese tour groups was quoted as saying he is “losing (his) job, completely out of the blue” as all reservations for March have already been cancelled.

It is also feared that the travel ban will impact the duty-free shops in Myeongdong. Some 70% of Lotte Duty Free’s income, the nation’s top duty-free operator, is estimated to come from Chinese tourists.

"We would have to watch the market for at least a month, since the travel ban has not been implemented yet," said Choi Ji Hyun, PR official of Lotte Duty Free, to The Korea Herald. "But we have to say that we are worried."

In an emergency meeting held on March 7, the Korean Tourism Organisation discussed countermeasures against the travel ban to Korea, along with other tourism-affiliated industries. 

One of the ways was to increase the number of Japanese tourists, from 1.2 million last year to 3.5 million this year, and to focus on individual Chinese tourists instead of group ones. 

However, it is uncertain if the individual Chinese tourists would come, as they might also refrain from visiting for fear of being imposed with a penalty.


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