Korea to Crack Down on Cut-Price Package Tours for Chinese
The government plans to crack down on so-called zero-dollar package tours for Chinese tourists, who are herded from one shopping opportunity to another and pressured to buy.
The number of Chinese tourists to Korea is expected to rise again now that an unofficial boycott is coming to an end, but the government does not want to return to the old ways.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said Tuesday, "We will run a better management system of package tour operators for Chinese tourists so that they offer better-quality tours."
Some 155 travel agencies have been designated by the ministry to run the tours under an agreement between Korea and China. Their license used to be valid for two years, but now they will have to renew it annually and pass a tougher review.
They were previously given 10 points on their track record for attracting Chinese tourists to high-value tours, and this criterion will now carry 30 points.
"We will value travel agencies that incorporate regional tourist spots into their tour program, have only one shopping slot per day, use four-star hotels or better, and hire qualified tour guides," a ministry official said. "We will revoke the license of those who fill the schedule with too many shopping trips for commissions."
Once stripped of their license, they cannot reapply for two years. The ministry also plans to collaborate with Chinese travel agencies and portal sites in China and hold presentations and marketing events in major cities there.
Some 403,000 Chinese tourists visited Korea in March, up 11.5 percent from a year ago and the first growth in a year.
China's National Tourism Administration allowed sales of package tours to Korea to resume in Beijing and Shandong Province in November last year, and in Wuhan this month.