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14 Nov, 2013

S. Korea adopts tourist goods certification to attract Chinese travelers


Beijing (Xinhua) 2013-11-13 – South Korea adopted a certification program of tourist goods to attract more travelers from China by scaling down rip-off sightseeing practices, an official at the Seoul Metropolitan Government said on Monday.

“Competition became fiercer among domestic travel agencies to attract more Chinese tourists,” an official at the municipal government told Xinhua. “The agencies scrambled to cut prices of tourist products, which led to forced shopping.”

Some travel agencies in Seoul, the country’s capital, touted low prices of their sightseeing products as sales pitch, but they importuned the travelers for unwished shopping to compensate for losses from irrational pricing.

The Seoul municipal government introduced the tourist product certification program in July to crack down on such unfair practices and make it easier for potential tourists to choose a rationally priced sightseeing package when travelling to Seoul.

Chinese visitors became the No. 1 consumer in the local tourism market in terms of consumption at the country’s duty free shops. According to data by the Korea Customs Service, Chinese travelers spent around 863.3 million U.S. dollars at the country’s duty- free shops for the first seven months of this year.

The figure beat 845.7 million dollars spent by South Koreans. It was the first time that foreign visitors spent more at the duty- free shops than local residents.

A total of 1.74 million Chinese visited South Korea in the first half, up 46 percent from the same period of last year. The reading surpassed Japanese tourists for the first time.

The number of Japanese visitors to the country shrank 27 percent from a year earlier to 1.34 million in the first half amid the weak Japanese yen trend that boosted burden for travelling costs.