Returning Chinese Tourists Spend Most Money in Myeong-dong
Tourism from China is rebounding, and the place where Chinese visitors spend the most money in Korea is the swish Myeong-dong shopping district in downtown Seoul.
The finding is based on payments made through Alipay during the Chinese National Day holidays from Oct. 1 to 7.
Around 700 million Chinese people use Alipay, the electronic payment system of the Alibaba online marketplace. Alipay forged ties with around 250 banks outside China and can be used to pay for products and services in 27 currencies.
Parent company Ant Financial said Wednesday that Alipay transactions rose 90 percent in Myeong-dong during the holidays, the highest increase in the world.
Myeong-dong is home to the Lotte and Shinsegae department stores as well as cosmetics shops and trendy boutiques. A growing number of stores in Myeong-dong accept not only Alipay but also WeChat Pay, another popular Chinese payment platform.
Each Chinese tourist spent an average of 1,979 yuan on Alipay during the holidays worldwide but 3,396 yuan in Myeong-dong, 72 percent more than the average.
Chinese spending on Alipay in the whole of Korea stood at 3,320 yuan, No. 9 in the world. The biggest amount of per-capita spending was in Denmark at 8,764 yuan. European countries also saw Alipay transactions increase at the biggest rate because the number of stores accepting it is increasing rapidly.
Hong Kong ranked first in terms of the number of Alipay transactions during that period since most stores there accept it. Next came Thailand, Taiwan and Japan, while Korea rose from fifth place in 2017 to fourth this year.
Total shopping volume using Alipay rose 2.2 times compared to the same period of last year. Chinese women in their 20s and 30s were the biggest spenders, with twice as many women as men buying products and services abroad.
Meanwhile, immigration authorities said 85,588 Chinese tourists visited Korea during the period, up 36 percent from a year ago, when China was boycotting Korea. The year before the number of Chinese visitors was 88,376, suggesting that things are getting back to normal even though package tours to Korea are still unavailable in many Chinese Provinces or online.