The Trip.com, the biggest Chinese travel agency, is working on the Korea Tourism Organization business deal which could provide the fighting tourism sector in South Korea with a much-needed boost when the COVID-19 pandemic starts to ease.
The agreement is expected to be signed with Chinese President Xi Jinping's forthcoming visit to Korea, which is scheduled for 1H21 or early 2H. The aim is to encourage a tourism exchange between Korea and China.
For a long time, China was South Korea's leading tourism source but still has to recover from the fall of the 2017 THHAD missile crisis, which saw China issue an official tourism boycott of South Korea including a prohibition on all tour groups. The figure for Chinese visitation decreased by 50%, from 8.1 million in 2016 to 4.2 million in 2017 and by 2019 to just 6 million.
Among those who felt the pain were casino operators from outside Korea, who own 16 of the 17 casinos in Korea – just Kangwon Land permit local residents to play – and remain at the mercy of international visits.
Paradise Co, the leading foreign only casino operator in Korea in the Seoul-based, and Busan-based, with three casinos plus the Incheon integrated Paradise City, reported losses of and KRW 19.0 billion (US$ 17.7 million) in 2017, and KRW 21.05 billion in 2018, as a result of the Thaad crisis.
In view of the events of the last year, any deal with Trip.com would be a prompte boost.
“We are preparing various plans with various possibilities regarding Korea-China tourism exchange,” a Trip.com representative told .
“As one of them, we are also discussing agreements with the Tourism Organization, but nothing has actually been promoted.”
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