March 16, 2017 11:01
A ban on "zero-dollar" shopping tours to Korea by the Chinese National Tourism Administration went into effect on Wednesday, widely seen as retaliation against the deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery from the U.S. in Korea.
Travel agencies also halted visa application services.
One staffer at a travel agency in Beijing said, "There was a huge commotion over the last two weeks with tourists canceling their tickets to Korea or switching to Southeast Asia or Japan."
Some major travel agencies reassigned staff charged with tours to Korea to other tasks.
The southern resort island of Jeju, which drew 3 million Chinese tourists annually, is to bear much of the brunt, while the streets of the Myeong-dong shopping district in downtown Seoul and the southern port city of Busan were also empty of Chinese visitors on Wednesday.
A staffer at a large travel agency in Seoul said, "We used to welcome 90 Chinese tourists a day until last Saturday, but that fell to zero the following day."
A staffer at another travel agency in Seoul said the number of Korean tourists heading to China has also dropped sharply, falling 50 percent compared to March last year.
Meanwhile, state-run Chinese broadcaster CCTV did not take advantage of World Consumer Rights Day Wednesday, also known as 3.15 in China, to single out Korean firms in often damaging reports on abuses by foreign firms. Instead it focused on illegal Japanese food imports and U.S. sports brand Nike.
Only the English-language Global Times, which has spearheaded a boycott of Korean products, named Samsung and Lotte Mart on a list of the top 10 brands Chinese consumers hate the most.
All the top 10 were American, Korean or Japanese, with U.S. fast food chains McDonalds, KFC and Pizza Hut taking the lead.
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