Fewer Chinese tourists visit S. Korea on Chinese travel law

SEOUL, Oct. 17 (Yonhap) -- Fewer Chinese tourists visited South Korea after a new Chinese law was enforced banning travel agencies from selling abnormally low-cost overseas shopping tours this month, industry sources said Thursday.

Chinese tourists have been traveling to South Korea at an abnormally low cost in return for shopping at stores that were introduced by South Korean travel agencies associated with Chinese agencies. South Korean travel agencies have often lowered the cost of their programs for Chinese tourist groups by receiving money from the shops.

According to the sources, the number of Chinese tourists visiting the South via programs of Hana Tour Service Inc., the country's biggest travel company, has sharply fallen to about 4,000 so far this month.

Through the Hana Tour programs, about 10,000 Chinese tourists visited the country in August and September, respectively.

Modetour Network Inc., the country's second-largest travel agency, also saw the number of its Chinese clients drop to approximately 5,000 so far this month compared with about 12,000 and 13,000 in August and September.

The new Chinese travel law has pushed up the cost of group tours to South Korea by an average of 30 to 40 percent in China, industry sources said.

The local travel agencies have no option but to wait and see the current situation as only Chinese travel agencies can attract tourists to South Korea in China, the sources said.

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