November 15, 2018 11:53
China's largest online travel agency Ctrip resumed sales of group tours to Korea on Wednesday after a one-year halt but changed its mind again just a few hours later.
Ctrip began selling tour packages to Korea at 2 p.m. Wednesday leaving from Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing. The five-day tours included visits to Seoul, Busan, Gangwon Province and Jeju Island.
There were rumors that the Chinese government had authorized the resumption of group tours and the second and third-largest online travel agencies would soon start selling tour packages too.
Beijing imposed an unofficial ban on Korean products and travels to Korea after the U.S. deployed a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery here. The ban included online sales of package tours on charter flights and cruise ships, and prohibited tour organizers from using hotels, duty-free shops and other commercial establishments of the Lotte Group, which provided the land to station the THAAD battery.
China partially lifted the boycott on tours from Beijing and Shandong in December last year, followed by Hubei and Chongqing in May this year and Shanghai and Jiangsu in August, but only at offline travel agencies.
When Korean media reported the resumption of online sales, Ctrip management called an urgent meeting to stop them again.
A travel industry source in Beijing said, "Chinese authorities allowed the resumption of group tours to Korea, but also urged travel agencies to proceed without making a lot of noise. It looks like Ctrip grew alarmed by the media coverage."
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