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Chinese group tours return to Korea after six-year hiatus [Korea JoongAng Daily]

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Chinese group tours return to Korea after six-year hiatus


Chinese tourists arrive at the Incheon Port International Passenger Terminal on Wednesday. These tourists had embarked on the Huadong Ferry from Shidao, China, the day before. [YONHAP]

Chinese tourists arrive at the Incheon Port International Passenger Terminal on Wednesday. These tourists had embarked on the Huadong Ferry from Shidao, China, the day before. [YONHAP]

Chinese group tourists will arrive in Korea on Thursday for the first time in more than six years after the Chinese government lifted bans on Aug. 10.

This marks the first time Chinese tourists have been allowed to visit Korea as part of organized groups since China imposed the ban in 2017 due to the deployment of the Thaad missile defense system.

The inaugural group of 31 tourists is a result of a joint program by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) and China's largest state-owned travel agency, CYTS, and commemorates the 31st anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

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Beyond just flight routes, tourism infrastructure has failed to recover following the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

"Many people I knew previously associated with the tourism sector have transitioned to new roles during the prolonged Covid pandemic," said Song Lee, CEO of a tour operator of China inbound tours in Korea named GK Tour. "It is difficult for them to come back even as tourism picks up again."

한국에서 인바운드 여행사를 운영하는 GK TOUR의 이송아 대표는 "이전에 관광부문에 종사했던 많은 사람들이 코로나 팬데믹이 장기화되면서 이직을 많이 했다",  "관광이 다시 활성화되더라도 그들이 다시 돌아오기는 어려울 것." 이라고 말했다.

 

Additionally, the economic strains caused by the pandemic have led to the closure of many budget-friendly hotels and larger restaurants that can accommodate sizable groups of tourists. Other accommodations and restaurants have raised their prices during the pandemic, making it harder to accommodate Chinese group tourists.  

The travel firms that survived also remain vigilant about the potential resurgence of budget-friendly "dumping" travel packages.  

또한, 팬데믹으로 인한 경제 위기로 저예산 호텔과 대규모 관광객 단체를 수용할 수 있는 대형 식당들이 폐쇄되었습니다. 다른 숙박 시설과 식당들은 대유행 기간 동안 가격을 인상하여 중국인 단체 관광객을 수용하기가 더 어려워졌습니다.

펜데믹에 살아남은 여행사들도 저가의 '덤핑' 여행 패키지의 부활 가능성에 대해 여전히 경계하고 있습니다.


Such tour packages, which offer a cut-rate experience and limited activities, were pinpointed as a primary cause for compromising the overall quality of tourist experiences in Korea. A common practice among domestic travel agencies to attract group travelers was engaging in competitive pricing battles or paying commission fees to Chinese travel agencies.

저렴한 가격과 제한된 활동을 제공하는 이러한 여행 패키지는 한국 관광 경험의 전반적인 질을 저하시키는 주요 원인으로 지목되었습니다. 국내 여행사들이 단체여행객을 유치하기 위해 흔히 하는 관행은 가격 경쟁을 벌이거나 중국 여행사에 수수료를 지불하는 것이었다.


"It is a problem that there are still Korean tour agencies that accept such remarkably-low prices proposed by the Chinese entities," Lee noted. "Consequently, prices continue to plummet, subsequently impacting the caliber of travel packages in Korea, and this deteriorating quality also leaves a negative impression of Chinese visitors about their Korean experiences."

이대표는 “아직도 중국 업체가 제시한 엄청나게 낮은 가격을 받아들이는 여행사가 있다는 게 문제”라고 지적했다. "결과적으로 가격이 지속적으로 급락하여 한국 여행 패키지의 수준에 영향을 미치고 있으며, 이러한 품질 저하로 인해 중국 방문객들이 한국 여행에 대해 부정적인 인상을 받고 있습니다."


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Korea JoongAng Daily
BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun1@joongang.co.kr]

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