Duty-free shops beckon Chinese tourists

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Duty-free shops beckon Chinese tourists


Lotte Duty Free shop in Jung District, central Seoul, is packed with Chinese tourists traveling during their national holidays on Sunday. [NEWSIS]

Duty free shops are throwing promotional events to boost sales during the Korea Sale FESTA period, which overlaps with China’s weeklong holiday celebrating National Day.

For duty-free store operators, this is one of the most profitable seasons of the year as the number of Chinese visitors soars.

According to statistics from the Korea Tourism Organization and industry insiders, over 200,000 Chinese visited Korea during the first seven days of October last year and the number is projected to grow to as much as 240,000 this year.

Shilla Duty Free is launching an event catering to foreign visitors starting from today. The winner will receive a package that consists of two round-trip tickets to Korea, vouchers for the Hotel Shilla spa and a one-night stay in a hotel suite, along with a gift coupon for 1 million won ($908) that can be used at Shilla Duty Free. The winner will receive special services normally reserved for VVIP customers.

Any foreigner who visits Shilla Duty Free in Seoul or Jeju Island can register for the event, for which submissions close on Oct. 31. The winner is to be announced on Nov. 8 via the company’s website.

“The goal of the surprise giveaway is to motivate foreign tourists to revisit Korea by offering them a chance at a special visiting experience,” said a spokesman for Shilla Duty Free.

To target young Chinese tourists familiar with social media, Shilla works with more than 250 bloggers who upload posts on Shilla Duty Free and touring in Korea. Combined, the number of followers surpasses 100 million people. Every month, the company selects one blogger based on the quality of the posts and grants him or her a chance to visit Korea.

Galleria Duty Free, which is in the 63 Building in Yeouido, also has a strategy to attract visitors via social media. In August, the company held a vote on its website to find “tour guides” who would receive $20,000 per week to promote tourist sites around Yeouido and the 63 Building.

The three guides selected from 3,000 contestants started their missions on Monday and will post live videos on Facebook and Chinese social network platforms Meipai and Weibo. The team consists of one Korean, a model, and two Chinese, both famous bloggers in China. Activities which are to be covered by Galleria’s tour guides include feeding fish at the 63 Building’s aquarium, attending the Seoul International Fireworks Festival and riding boats on the Han River.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]
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