SEOUL, Dec. 24 (Korea Bizwire) — Chinese visitors from Shanghai, Guangdong Province, and economically advanced areas in China coming to South Korea have surged in number.
Diplomatic sources argue that travel exchanges between China and South Korea are on the verge of recovery as China is gradually lifting its travel restrictions to South Korea originally imposed following the diplomatic standoff between Seoul and Beijing over the deployment of a U.S. missile shield system, known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery, in South Korea.
The Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Shanghai received 406,487 applications for private visas between January 1 and December 17 of this year, already surpassing last year’s record of 365,908 applications.
The consulate mainly deals with applications from Shanghai, Zhejiang Province, Jiangsu Province, and other wealthy areas in China.
More than 90 percent of all visa applications were for travel. An average of 2,000 applications are being submitted per day as the Chinese New Year is just around the corner.
The consulate received 404,815 applications in 2016. Following the THAAD crisis, the number plunged to 264,287 applications.
This year, the numbers have increased by 11.1 percent since last year, and are up 53.8 percent since 2017 when the travel industry was most hurt by the THAAD crisis.
Applications from Guangzhou, Wuhan, and Chengdu recovered to pre-THAAD levels.
“It is very welcoming to see that more Chinese tourists are interested in going to South Korea. Since tourists spend more than other types of visitors, it is expected to help our tourism industry,” said Choi Young-sam, the consul general of South Korea in Shanghai.
The Federation of Korean Industries reported that the number of Chinese tourists coming to South Korea reached 4,441,000 people as of September, an increase of 27.1 percent since last year.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China made a forecast based on flight reservation data that the most sought-after destinations for Chinese tourists during Chinese New Year will be Japan, Thailand, and South Korea.
Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)