SEJONG, Feb. 2 (Korea Bizwire) – Commission fees given by duty-free shops to travel agencies increased sharply to reach nearly 1 trillion won (US$872.4 million) last year on heated competition to attract more foreign travelers, customs data showed Thursday.
Twenty-two local duty-free operators paid a combined 967.2 billion won to tourist agencies and guides in 2016 in exchange for collecting foreign tourists, according to the data compiled by the Korea Customs Service.
The amount has been on a sharp rise in recent years, up from 296.6 billion won in 2013 to 548.6 billion won in 2014 and 563 billion won in 2015.
At the same time, the duty-free shops saw their sales soar 43.5 percent on-year to 8.9 trillion won last year, and 62.5 percent of the money was from tourist groups.
A total of 17.2 million foreigners visited South Korea last year, with nearly half of them from China.