SEOUL, May 30 (Korea Bizwire) – The number of South Koreans visiting China shrank by almost half in March-May from a year earlier, data from a major travel agency showed Tuesday, reflecting weak demand amid the ongoing diplomatic row between the neighboring countries.
The tally on outbound travelers to China plunged 42 percent in the cited two months ending May 31. People visiting China accounted for 15.1 percent of all outbound travelers in the cited period down from 32.6 percent the previous year, according to the latest data released by Mode Tour.
The Seoul-based travel agency did not disclose details on the actual number of travelers.
The data reflects dampened interest among South Koreans after Beijing implemented a string of measures against South Korean products and services in protest of the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system, or THAAD, on the Korean Peninsula.
Since March 15, China has also banned its travel agencies from selling Korea-bound trips in an apparent act of sabotage.
Related industries in both countries are pinning hopes on a thaw in relations after new South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office on May 10. At present there are no clear signs of change.
The findings showed that while South Koreans cut back on trips to China they instead opted to visit Japan and Southeast Asia, with the growth for each region spiking 72 percent and 66 percent in the same period, respectively.
“Southeast Asia and Japan absorbed Chinese demand as alternative destinations after the THAAD dispute,” a Mode Tour official said. “Travel to Vietnam and Malaysia recorded a doubling in traffic in terms of on-year growth.”
According to the state tourism organization, the number of outbound travelers rose 23.7 percent on-year to 1.94 million in March with the figure gaining 22.4 percent to 2 million in April.