March 27, 2017 11:03
The Jeju provincial government is rolling up its sleeves to revive the tourism industry on the resort island amid declining Chinese tourist numbers due to tensions caused by the deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery here.
The island government will hold massive bargain sales throughout April where some 630 businesses will take part.
It will open the gates to a total of 28 public tourist destinations on the island for free. Visitors can also enjoy a 5 to 65 percent discount at hotels, tourist attractions, souvenir shops, golf courses and restaurants.
The number of Chinese tourists to Jeju from March 1 to 19 dropped 44.2 percent on-year after Beijing banned "zero-dollar" shopping tours to Korea in retaliation for the THAAD deployment.
The daily average number of Chinese visitors fell from upwards of 3,000 to 1,000. All 2,280 charter buses in Jeju are now practically at a standstill as Chinese tour groups, including cruise passengers, have stopped arriving or refused to set foot ashore.
But more domestic tourists are visiting Jeju as fewer Chinese tourists means more airline tickets are available. During about the first 20 days of March, 573,500 domestic tourists visited Jeju, up from 515,000 over the same period last year. The average booking rate of Gimpo-Jeju flights has reached 90 percent.
Although the number of Chinese tour groups has declined, more individual tourists are coming from China.
"The number of individual Chinese tourists has increased from 500 to 1,000 a day. They account for some 90 percent of all our sales," a staffer of a duty-free shop in downtown Jeju said.
"We'll rejuvenate tourism by attracting domestic hikers, golfers, and students on school trips and diversifying sources of foreign tourists, including Southeast Asia and Japan," a Jeju government official said.
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