SEOUL, March 2 (Korea Bizwire) - Chinese tourists in South Korea spent more in the country following the introduction of an on-the-spot tax refund system, local data showed Tuesday.
Since February, South Korean department stores offered instant tax refunds to foreign tourists who buy products at local duty-free shops, in line with its efforts to revitalize the tourism industry hurt by the economic slump. Local tourism was also affected by the outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome last year.
Lotte Department Store said according to its survey conducted among foreign consumers over the Chinese new year holiday, 82 percent responded that they have made more purchases to utilize the new refund arrangement.
Hyundai Department Store Co. also said the daily request for the on-the-spot tax refund came to 85 cases as of end-February, compared to 50 posted earlier in the month.
The new policy allows foreigners to receive instant discounts of 10 percent when purchasing products priced between 30,000 won (US$24) and 200,000 won. The discount cannot exceed 1 million won during the combined stay.
Previously, tourists had to receive tax refund receipts from department stores, which had to then be reported to the customs office at airports and seaports when they left the country.
Industry watchers, however, said the government should mark up the maximum limit of 200,000 won, as many tourists find the amount to be too small.