SEOUL, Nov. 3 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea’s top economic policymaker said Friday that the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics will be a boon for the country tourism industry, coupled with recent improvement in relationship with China.
“Tourism is an important industry that creates more jobs than other sectors,” Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said in a meeting in Seoul. “The Winter Olympics is about 100 days away and the improved relations with China will give fresh momentum to the local tourism industry.”
The quadrennial sports event will kick off in February in the eastern mountainous region of PyeongChang, the first Olympic Games hosted by South Korea in almost 30 years.
South Korea’s tourism sector has struggled for several months due mainly to security and political issues.
The Chinese government ordered its travel agencies to stop selling tour packages to South Korea in retaliation against Seoul’s decision to install a U.S.-led missile defense system, or THAAD, on its soil.
As a result, South Korea saw the number of Chinese visitors plunge around 60 percent on-year every single month since spring this year. During the March-August period, Chinese tourists fell 61.3 to 2 million from 6.3 million tallied over the same period last year.
Last year, nearly 8 million Chinese people came to South Korea, with their visits generating growth in the retail and food sector.
Recently, the two governments agreed to put their relations back on track, which raised hope for a rebound in the number of Chinese visitors that can help local industries.