SEOUL, Aug. 16 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korean retailers are accelerating efforts to attract more Chinese consumers, companies said Thursday, as they strive to recover from the fallout from the diplomatic row between Seoul and Beijing over the stationing of a U.S. anti-missile system.
Lotte Duty Free, South Korea’s No. 1 duty-free operator, said it signed a partnership deal with Alipay, China’s largest online payment platform, to carry out joint promotion.
According to Lotte, all renewal of Korean firms’ marketing contracts with Chinese payment platforms was suspended following the diplomatic dispute over the deployment of a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery in southeastern South Korea.
In March last year, China banned the sale of package tours to South Korea and took other retaliatory measures against Korean companies, insisting the missile shield poses a threat to its security.
The latest deal includes a 5 percent discount for consumers who pay with Alipay and VIP benefits to Alipay users, according to their membership level at the payment platform.
“Following the resumption of the partnership, we will take a lead in efforts to attract more Chinese tourists,” a Lotte representative said.
The Korean firm said it is also pushing to strengthen cooperation with other Chinese payment services, such as UnionPay and WeChat Pay.
Last week, Shinsegae DF Inc., the duty-free arm of retail giant Shinsegae, also said it is planning to collaborate with Alipay, announcing its marketing partnership with Ctrip, a Chinese online travel platform.
The number of Chinese tourists who visited South Korea in June came to 379,891, up 49 percent from June 2017 when the travel ban was in full swing. Yet, the latest figure still falls short of 758,534 tallied in June 2016.