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Korean tourism industry seeking ways to lessen impact from China's suspension on tour package sales

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중국, 15일인 오늘부터 한국 관광상품 판매 금지... 앞으로의 극복방안은? China's ban on group tour packages to Korea came into force today.It's part of Beijing's growing retaliation against Seoul's installation of a missile defense system it says it needs to guard against North Korea... and that Beijing perceives as a security threat.Our Oh Jung-hee hit the streets of Myeong-dong to gauge the impact... and highlights what Korea can do to minimize the shock. About two weeks ago, the authorities in Beijing told Chinese travel agencies to stop selling all tour packages to Korea starting March 15th.Over the following week, Korea's main gateway, Incheon International Airport, saw passenger numbers fall by 180-thousand.Visitor numbers at Korea's royal palaces and shrines plunged to about 60-percent of normal levels... and several cruise ships canceled trips to Korea's southern port city of Busan and the resort island of Jeju-do.Those cancellations meant the loss of a few hundred-thousand tourists. "But this could just be the beginning,... as the policy goes into effect on Wednesday. The number of Chinese tourists to Korea is expected to drop exponentially, dealing a significant blow to Korea's tourism industry." The shopping district of Myeong-dong, in central Seoul, isn't as crowded as it used to be.A couple of store clerks who didn't want to give their names told Arirang... they're seeing around 80-percent fewer Chinese customers. They're choosing to speak Japanese to bring people in. "Before, about 5 out of 10 foreign visitors to Myeong-dong were Chinese, but that's dropped to 2 or 3 out of 10. Myeong-dong shops that have depended on Chinese customers have been hit hard. I think it's now time to shift our attention to customers from other countries like Japan or Southeast Asia, as they make up the other half of foreign visitors." Duty-free shops -- where Chinese tourists used to account for at least 70-percent of sales -- are already making the shift.The big ones are signing partnerships with travel agencies in Japan, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.Four restaurants at the Galleria Duty Free Store have had their menus certified as Muslim-friendly. Some say this is a chance for Korea to change its tourism environment... to attract visitors from a variety of countries. "Korea's tour agencies have led Chinese tourists to shop particularly in duty-free shops. But that's not the main part of tourism activity. We've got to focus on quality tourism reflecting local authenticity or local culture or some contents." That means... the focus has to be giving visitors a first-hand experience of Korean culture through activities... and developing original cultural products.Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.Visit ‘Arirang News’ Official PagesFacebook(NEWS): http://www.facebook.com/newsarirangHomepage: http://www.arirang.comFacebook: http://www.facebook.com/arirangtvTwitter: http://twitter.com/arirangworldInstagram: http://instagram.com/arirangworld

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