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Korea Sees Surge in Chinese Group Visitors

Korea has seen a sudden surge in inbound Chinese groups, with two large-scale groups from China set to arrive in Korea the first two months of 2020.

Inbound Chinese groups to Korea experienced a sharp decline back in 2016 due to a tourism boycott enforced by China in retaliation against Seoul’s decision to allow the deployment of a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system. The number of Chinese incentive visitors to Korea hit a record high of 123,410 in 2016 and dropped to a mere 17,293 in 2017. Since then, numbers have slowly been on the rise, with nearly 90,000 Chinese incentive visitors towards the end of 2019.

The number is expected to rise for 2020, with already 2 large-scale Chinese groups set to visit Korea in the first two months. In January, more than 5,000 employees of Chinese health food company, Yi Yong Tang, arrived for a six-day trip to attractions in Seoul and Incheon – the largest incentive travel group to visit Korea since 2017.

The group attended a special Welcome Ceremony at Incheon Songdo ConvensiA on January 9th, complete with exclusive K-pop performances by Hallyu stars Hwang Chiyeol and Lee Jung-hyun. The group also enjoyed visits to famous tourist attractions, including Gyeongbokgung Palace, Lotte World and Wolmido Island.  

Meanwhile, over 3,500 students from China will visit Korea for a winter vacation trip – the biggest school excursion group to visit Korea in the past 3 years. The group will arrive divided into seven groups from January through early February. The students will visit Seoul, Incheon and Daegu on a 5-day trip, with opportunities to interact with Korean students and partake in Hansik (Korean traditional cuisine) experiences, ski lessons, and enjoy musical performances.

Cheong Ik Soo, Director of Corporate & Incentive Team at Korea Tourism Organization, stated, “We will ensure incentive tourism plays a key role in achieving the nation’s goal of attracting 20 million foreign tourists this year.”


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