March 30, 2016 11:53
A growing number of massive tour groups from China are pouring into Korea.
Kicking off the flood of visitors this year were 6,000 sales reps for a cosmetics and health supplement outfit.
They arrived here earlier this week aboard 158 airplanes as part of a bonus trip. The city of Incheon threw a chicken and beer party for them -- a popular combination thanks to the hit soap "My Love from the Star," which took China by storm.
May will see an even bigger group of around 8,000 reps for a Nanjing-based health supplement manufacturer. They plan to shop and attend a flower festival along the Han River. And in June, around 10,000 reps for direct-sale giant Herbalife's Singapore branch are scheduled to visit Gyeonggi Province.
The Korea Tourism Organization and the Seoul Metropolitan Government forecast between 30 to 40 groups of more than 1,000 Chinese tourists to visit Korea on bonus trips. Direct-sales behemoth Amway set the record in 2014, when 14,791 of its reps came to Korea.
The main attraction of Korea for the companies is the explosive popularity of Korean TV soaps and K-pop among the housewives who typically work a sideline in direct sales. Korea is also conveniently close.
Experts say while these mass tours bring in a lot of money, Korea needs to offer a wider variety of programs and bolster infrastructure so visitors can experience more than just shopping centers and soap opera locations.
Lee Choong-ki at Kyunghee University said, "The popularity of the Korean Wave could cool at any time, so a wider variety of tourist attractions is urgently needed."
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com