July 27, 2015 11:16
Chinese tourists are starting to return to Korea as the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome is virtually over.
The Korea Tourism Organization on Sunday said 3,000 Chinese staff of a health food manufacturer will visit Korea from Monday to late August as a reward from their employer. They were scheduled to come early last month but canceled the plans due to the MERS outbreak. They are visiting Korea in eight groups by cruise ship from Tianjin and will stay for five days.
Large travel agencies in China have resumed recruiting for tours to Korea. They aim to send 100,000 tourists to Korea from August to December.
Some 1,000 Chinese will be welcomed in an event hosted by the KTO on Aug. 22.
Passenger demand is also showing signs of recovery on Chinese flights to Korea.
According to Xinhua news agency, China's biggest budget carrier Spring Airlines will increase flights from Shanghai to Jeju Island, Shijiazhuang to Seoul and Shijiazhuang to Jeju. China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines will also boost the number of flights to Korea late this month.
Chinese government officials have begun promoting tours to Korea. City officials and travel agents in Beijing will visit Korea on Tuesday in a show of support for Korea's struggling travel industry. They will meet with officials from the Seoul city government and travel agencies here and exchange ideas on how to promote tourism.
A travel agent said, the number of reservations dwindled to the single digits a day, but rose to 300 this week.
Suh Young-choong at the KTO said, "Chinese tourists who have come here are saying that the situation is far more stable than they feared. The number of Chinese visitors is likely to return to 70 to 80 percent of previous years in September, when there is a three-day holiday marking the 70th anniversary of the allied victory over Japan."
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