No room at the inns for flood of Chinese tourists

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No room at the inns for flood of Chinese tourists

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Chinese tourists rush into Shinsegae Department Store in central Seoul Wednesday as soon as the store opens. Shinsegae is offering Chinese customers special discounts of up to 30 percent during the holiday season. [NEWSIS]


More Chinese tourists than ever before flocked to Korea during the major Chinese national holiday, which partly coincided with the Korean Chuseok holiday.

As a testament to the influx, some tourists on an organized package tour almost had to stay at a sauna because there were no hotels or inns with vacancies.

Around 2:30 a.m. yesterday, 28 sleepy tourists from Tianjin, China, arrived at Cheongju International Airport in North Chungcheong. Their five-day trip over the Chinese National Day holiday entailed a visit to Panmunjom, Jeju Island and other tourist attractions in Korea, along with plenty of shopping.

They expected to be taken to a hotel upon arrival, but their tour guide instead took them to a local sauna. The group immediately took matters to the Chinese Embassy, stating that the turn of events was “different than as stated in the tour contract,” the Namdaemun Police Precinct said. The travelers asserted that they had been “mistreated” by the travel agency.

The embassy quickly found a hotel in Paju, Gyeonggi, for the group.

The Korean travel agency in charge of the group, which worked with a travel agency in China, said, “There were no vacant lodgings near Cheongju International Airport, so the group was to rest at the sauna for the first night because the tour started early the next morning anyway. But the Chinese travel agency did not properly convey this to them.”

“Before we departed, the Chinese travel agency said that all four nights would be spent at hotels,” one 34-year-old member of the group said. “I was shocked when I came to Korea and was told we were going to a sauna.”

The Chinese Embassy mediated, contacting the Chinese travel agency to confirm the situation. After the Korean agency agreed to refund some money to each tourist, the group agreed to continue the rest of the trip.

Many Chinese tourists came to Korea after canceling trips to Japan because of the two countries’ ongoing territorial dispute.

Jeju Island alone saw nearly 33,000 Chinese tourists between Saturday and Wednesday, a 59 percent increase over last year.

The Korea Tourism Organization expects that 100,000 Chinese tourists will visit the country during this holiday, an increase of 35 percent from last year.

On the other hand, the number of Japanese tourists decreased by 55 percent this holiday season compared to last year, to 1,170 people, reflecting the tension between Korea and Japan over the Dokdo islets.

Last week, China, Japan and Korea spoke at the United Nations General Assembly about the territorial dispute.

More Chinese tourists than ever before flocked to Korea during the major Chinese national holiday, which partly coincided with the Korean Chuseok holiday.

As a testament to the influx, some tourists on an organized package tour almost had to stay at a sauna because there were no hotels or inns with vacancies.

Around 2:30 a.m. yesterday, 28 sleepy tourists from Tianjin, China, arrived at Cheongju International Airport in North Chungcheong. Their five-day trip over the Chinese National Day holiday entailed a visit to Panmunjom, Jeju Island and other tourist attractions in Korea, along with plenty of shopping.

They expected to be taken to a hotel upon arrival, but their tour guide instead took them to a local sauna. The group immediately took matters to the Chinese Embassy, stating that the turn of events was “different than as stated in the tour contract,” the Namdaemun Police Precinct said. The travelers asserted that they had been “mistreated” by the travel agency.

The embassy quickly found a hotel in Paju, Gyeonggi, for the group.

The Korean travel agency in charge of the group, which worked with a travel agency in China, said, “There were no vacant lodgings near Cheongju International Airport, so the group was to rest at the sauna for the first night because the tour started early the next morning anyway. But the Chinese travel agency did not properly convey this to them.”

“Before we departed, the Chinese travel agency said that all four nights would be spent at hotels,” one 34-year-old member of the group said. “I was shocked when I came to Korea and was told we were going to a sauna.”

The Chinese Embassy mediated, contacting the Chinese travel agency to confirm the situation. After the Korean agency agreed to refund some money to each tourist, the group agreed to continue the rest of the trip.

Many Chinese tourists came to Korea after canceling trips to Japan because of the two countries’ ongoing territorial dispute.

Jeju Island alone saw nearly 33,000 Chinese tourists between Saturday and Wednesday, a 59 percent increase over last year.

The Korea Tourism Organization expects that 100,000 Chinese tourists will visit the country during this holiday, an increase of 35 percent from last year.

On the other hand, the number of Japanese tourists decreased by 55 percent this holiday season compared to last year, to 1,170 people, reflecting the tension between Korea and Japan over the Dokdo islets.

Last week, China, Japan and Korea spoke at the United Nations General Assembly about the territorial dispute.

By We Sung-wook, Choi Kyung-ho [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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