SEOUL, Nov. 28 (Korea Bizwire) – The number of inbound visitors to South Korea is expected to decline more than 23 percent in 2017 after a sharp drop in Chinese visitors following the U.S. missile defense system deployment row, the country’s tourism promotion agency said Tuesday.
The number of foreigners who visited South Korea from January to October came to 11.11 million, down 23.9 percent on-year, according to the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO).
By the end of the year, the total number of foreign tourists is expected to drop 23.4 percent to 13.2 million, the tourism agency said.
The Chinese authorities have banned its travel agencies from selling Korea-bound package tours since March in apparent retaliation over Seoul’s decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on its soil. Chinese tourists accounted for nearly half of the 17 million foreigners that visited the country last year.
Yet the two countries have been showing signs of restoring ties, after announcing late last month that they had decided to put their relations back on track. The leaders of the two countries are slated to hold a summit in China next month.
On Tuesday, China decided to partially lift the sales ban on Korea-bound trips, highlighting the recent normalization of bilateral ties between Seoul and Beijing, according to industry sources.