January 14, 2020 13:26
In further signs of a thaw in Korea's ties with China, some 3,500 Chinese schoolkids will visit Korea until next month.
The Korea Tourism Organization said Monday that the Chinese elementary and middle-school kids will visit Seoul, Incheon and Daegu during the winter festival. They set off from various parts of China and are arriving in seven batches until early February.
Their trip follows a massive 5,000-strong incentive trip for reps of a health company earlier this month and raises hopes here that Beijing's unofficial ban on package tours to Korea is coming to an end.
China imposed the ban in March 2017, in part under a boycott of Korea and in part because it wants to put an end to so-called zero-dollar tours where Chinese tourists travel practically for free but are then herder from one shopping outlet to another to recoup costs.
Some Chinese travel agencies have started advertising package tours to Seoul and Mt. Seorak in Gangwon Province, but so far they have proven less attractive than the zero-dollar tours.
The number of Chinese visitors to Korea dropped sharply from 8.06 million in 2016 to 4.16 million in 2017 but recovered to around 6 million last year.
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