August 28, 2023 11:40
Chinese tour groups are returning now the ban has been lifted and breathing fresh life into Seoul's tourist attractions.
The Myeong-dong shopping district and Gwanghwamun area are already bustling with Chinese tourists, and many more are expected.
According to the Justice Ministry last Friday, 11,801 Chinese arrived on Aug. 11, the first day when Chinese group tourist were allowed to enter Korea again. A daily average of 10,839 arrived from Aug. 11 to 14, up about 30 percent from the previous 10-day average.
Only a week after the lifting of the group tour ban, more than 800,000 Chinese had already made bookings on 267 cruise ships bound for Jeju Island.
An official with the Jeju Tourism Organization said, "We expect that there'll be more flights in preparation for an explosive increase in the number of Chinese tourists ahead of long holidays including China's Moon Festival in late September and Golden Week in early October."
In the past, most Chinese tourists focused on shopping but now they are also interested in popular tourist attractions like Gyeongbok Palace, the former presidential palace of Cheong Wa Dae, and Bukchon Hanok Village.
"In the past, shopping took up 90 percent of Chinese package tourism, but these days, many Chinese tourists want to visit other attractions in Seoul or take part in cultural programs," a Korean travel agent said. "They must have missed Seoul and Korea over the last few years."
A Chinese travel guide said, "While travel was banned to Korea, many Chinese soothed their longings for foreign parts by watching Korean TV dramas and films."
Universities are one popular destination for selfies. Seoul National University will resume campus tours in September. An SNU official said, "We've received two or three inquiries a day about group campus tours since early this month. In the second semester, we plan to recruit more student envoys to handle Chinese tourists."
Hongik University, with its trendy surroundings known as Hongdae, is also going to recruit student envoys who can speak Chinese, and Ewha Womans University will put up new information display boards in Chinese around campus.
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