September 03, 2015 12:22
Chinese tourists are returning to Korea after the end of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome outbreak here.
According to immigration authorities, 23,000 Chinese tourists entered Korea on Aug. 25, surpassing the 19,000 daily visitors in May, before the MERS outbreak.
In June and July, the number of Chinese tourists fell 40 to 50 percent on-year, according to the Korea Tourism Organization.
Tourism industry insiders expect visitor numbers from China to return to pre-MERS levels during the two-week holidays in China between the end of September and early October.
Duty-free sales are recovering apace. Lotte's duty-free shop in downtown Seoul said revenues generated by Chinese tourists recovered to almost 95 percent of pre-MERS levels in the final week of August.
In Lotte's seven major duty-free shops, sales to Chinese tourists have increased to 70 to 80 percent of last year's levels. The same goes for duty-free shops run by Shilla.
Lotte invited more than 5,000 Chinese tourists to outdoor concerts in Busan this weekend as part of efforts to boost sales.
It plans a similar concert and a party in Seoul next month. More than 10,000 Chinese visitors are expected to attend each event.
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