SEOUL, Jan. 31 (Korea Bizwire) — Local duty-free shops are offering exclusive incentives for Chinese tourists, hoping to attract them during the Lunar New Year holiday next month, industry officials said Wednesday.
The Feb. 15-21 holidays overlap with the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics taking place in South Korea’s eastern alpine region from Feb. 9-25 as well as with the Korea Grand Sale period from Jan. 18-Feb. 28.
Industry officials, however, are worried about the lingering aftermath of a Seoul-Beijing diplomatic spat. China has yet to clearly remove travel and import restrictions imposed on its neighbor country in retaliation for South Korea’s decision to host an advanced U.S. anti-missile defense system on its soil.
Officials say the duty-free shops are honing in on individual tourists from China to make up for losses of group package travelers.
“Duty-free businesses still depend largely on small-scale private Chinese buyers,” one official said. “We are hoping for a sign of returning Chinese group tourists with the PyeongChang Olympics, but we are focusing for now on individual travelers and local shoppers going overseas during the holiday.”
Lotte Duty Free is giving on-site discounts to foreign shoppers. In the case of Chinese customers, the company will arrange free airport-to-home transportation service in China for people purchasing more than US$4,000 of goods at its stores.
Shilla Duty Free is launching “hong bao” marketing for shoppers from China. Literally meaning “red envelope,” hong bao refers to cash given as gifts in China for the Lunar New Year. Shilla will give customers up to 1 million won (US$933.27) as hong bao depending on the amount they purchase.
Shinsegae Duty Free said it will give a maximum 30 percent discount to all customers during the Korea Grand Sale days and a 10,000-won discount for all purchases of $100 or more. On Feb. 16, Lunar New Year’s Day, it will provide a 50,000 won coupon to visitors who buy more than $1 worth of goods at its shops.