South Gyeongsang Province is trying to encourage more individual Chinese visitors on chartered flights since a new travel law took effect in China in October. The new travel law imposes limits on shopping in tour programs, bans additional charges for optional experiences, and makes it illegal for guides to demand tips.
The provincial government signed a contract with a major tourism agency in Shanghai to operate chartered planes to boost tourism, and the first of them arrived last week.
On arrival at Sacheon Airport on April 9, the 157 passengers on the first plane were welcomed by a group of performers playing traditional famers' music. The visitors were offered bouquets of flowers and various souvenirs at a welcoming ceremony at the airport before kicking off their tour.
◆ Seonjin-li Fortress
The first destination was Seonjin-li Fortress in Sacheon, a historic site where admiral Yi Sun-shin defeated Japanese invaders for the first time using a turtle-shaped warship in the late 16th century. The driveway leading to the fortress was lined with cherry blossom trees forming a tunnel, impressing the Chinese with beautiful scenes of cherry-colored petals floating in the wind.
◆ Samcheonpo Bridge
After lunch, they headed to Samcheonpo Bridge, from which the southern coast of the country comes into full view. Every spring the spot is covered with yellow rape flowers that stretch as high as people's knees. The views of the flowers, ocean, bridge and islands make for some breathtaking scenery. Last year’s hit drama "Reply 1994" was also shot here.
◆ Marine Botanical Garden in Geoje
The Chinese tourists took a pleasure boat at Jangseung Port and a 30-minute trip took them to a botanical garden in Oe Island, Geoje. The entrance was lined with tall palm trees and the visitors followed the small path to see a range of plants. Tulips in diverse colors, in particular, drew their attention as they took photos with the flowers in the background.
The tourists also had chances to visit the marine city of Tongyeong, the country's largest annual Jinhae cherry blossom festival in Changwon, and a water park in Changnyeong. They stopped at Gimhae for some shopping as a number of large-scale fashion outlets are clustered there.