March 13, 2017 11:43
Chinese package tourists on an international cruise liner refused to go ashore on Jeju Island on Saturday as bad blood between the two countries intensifies.
The move comes after China intensified a crackdown on so-called zero-dollar shopping tours to Korea amid a spat over the stationing of a U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery here.
The 11,000-ton Costa Serena, coming from Fukuoka, docked at the port around 1 p.m. Saturday, the provincial government said Sunday. But about 3,400 passengers on a reward trip organized by a Chinese company stayed on board. The ship sailed for Tianjin around four hours later.
A Jeju government official said, "The local travel agency told us only after the ship dropped anchor that the passengers wouldn't be disembarking." Some 80 charter buses and tour guides that had been on standby to herd the group around Jeju waited in vain for business.
About 700 cruise ships are to dock on the island this year, most from China. Local tourism businesses worry that many more passengers will not leave their ships.
Meanwhile, some 86 flights between Jeju and 14 Chinese cities will be suspended or canceled starting Wednesday, more than half of the 159 that link the island to mainland China.
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