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Chinese visitors in Korea drop for 4 straight months on THAAD spat

July 25, 2017 - 11:22 By Catherine Chung
The number of Chinese tourists in South Korea more than halved last month on-year, marking a decline for four straight months following China's ban on sales of Korea-bound trips amid a diplomatic row over a US anti-missile system here, government data showed Tuesday.

The tally of Chinese visitors came to 254,930, down 66.4 percent from 758,534 recorded the previous year, according to the data by the Korea Tourism Organization.

The combined number of Chinese visitors in the January-June period stood at 2.25 million, down 41 percent from 3.81 million tallied in 2016, it said.

A total of 991,802 foreigners visited South Korea last month, down 36.2 percent from 1.55 million a year ago, according to the KTO. 

This photo, taken on June 20, 2017, shows a duty-free store in central Seoul crowded with tourists. (Yonhap)

The sharp decline in Chinese tourists has been widely expected as Beijing has banned its travel agencies from selling trips to Korea since mid-March, in an apparent retaliation over Seoul's deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense. 

The ban, which has wrecked havoc on South Korean firms, especially the retail and duty-free sectors, has yet to be lifted.

Chinese visitors accounted for nearly half of some 17 million foreigners into the country last year.

South Korea also saw the number of Japanese tourists fall 6.9 percent on-year to 167,785 last month, due largely to intensifying geographical instability on the Korean Peninsula following North Korea's military provocations.

The number of outbound nationals, meanwhile, recorded 2.09 million in June, up 18 percent from the previous year, the KTO said. (Yonhap)