AsKorea and China are set to improve their relationship that was rocked by thecontroversy over the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballisticmissile system, Korea's tourism and duty-free shopping industries are raisingtheir hopes of better days.
Thetourism industry believes that the Chinese government's group tour ban to Koreawould be relaxed soon. A travel agency in Hebei posted an Internet ad recentlyfor a group tour program to Korea in November at the price of 1,480 yuan(US$223). China's largest online travel agency Ctrip also put out group tourprograms to Korea for the first time in seven months.
Thenation's duty-free industry, which saw their sales plunge since the Chinesegovernment's retaliatory measures in response to THAAD, also expects theirsales revenue to soar any time soon. Lotte Duty Free, the No. 1 company in theindustry, is slowly stepping up its promotional efforts to Chinese touriststhrough social networking sites such as Baidu.
Anofficial with Shilla Duty Free said, "Even though the foot traffic ofChinese tourists abruptly discontinued since March this year, we haven't scaledback our business hours and sales floor, thinking the current tension withChina would soon go away. We will purchase more cosmetic items that Chinesecustomers like."
Others,however, warned that Chinese tourists may not come back in droves quicklyenough. An official with the Korea Tourism Organization said, "Even thoughthe Chinese government has not announced its position on the matter yet, it istrue that the bilateral relations will get better. Still, we have to be carefulas the thaw in relationship at the government level doesn't necessarily meangood relations at people level immediately."