China Lifts Ban on Cut-Price Package Tours to Korea

  • By Lee Kil-seong

    November 29, 2017 09:15

    China's National Tourism Administration on Tuesday lifted a ban on so-called zero-dollar package tours to Korea.

    The tours were banned eight months ago, when a spat erupted over the stationing of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery from the U.S. in Korea.

    But now the tourism authority told offline travel agencies in Beijing and Shandong they can sell package tours to Korea again. Travel agencies in those parts of China account for around 30 percent of all Chinese tourists visiting Korea.

    A banner promotes exclusive discounts for Chinese shoppers in Myeong-dong in Seoul on Wednesday.

    One travel industry insider said, "Although the Chinese government did not specify a date, the authorization appears to be effective immediately."

    But the NTA continues to ban online sales, cruises and charter flights.

    Another industry insider said, "It looks like the Chinese government wants to gauge public opinion and moderate the pace of lifting the boycott."

    The move comes after the foreign ministers of the two countries agreed on Oct. 31 to normalize bilateral relations chilled by the THAAD dispute.

    The street in front of Lotte’s duty-free shop is deserted in downtown Seoul on Wednesday.

    But Beijing stressed that it will not lift a boycott of Lotte, which handed over a former golf course for the THAAD deployment and runs duty-free shops and hotels here.

    Meanwhile, the NTA banned trips to North Korea except for residents of Liaoning and Jilin provinces near the border, which have large ethnic Korean populations and trade with the North.

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