Hanwha pulls Jeju duty-free store

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Hanwha pulls Jeju duty-free store

Hanwha Galleria Co., a duty-free operator, will remove its business from Jeju airport amid a sharp decrease in the number of Chinese tourists following a diplomatic row over the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system, industry sources said Monday.

The duty-free operator has recently delivered its intention to the Korea Airports Corp., the country’s airport operator, to return its duty-free business license at Jeju Airport, which is valid until April 2019, and received written consent from the airport operator, according to the sources.

Following due procedures, the business could be suspended within this year at the earliest, they said.

Hanwha Galleria, which won the bid to run the duty-free store in 2014, has been suffering from the drop in the number of tourists after the Chinese government banned the country’s travel agencies from selling Korea-bound package tours since mid-March in an apparent retaliation over the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system deployment. Chinese tourists accounted for 46.7 percent of all tourists coming to South Korea last year.

In the April-May period, the duty-free operator’s monthly sales hovered below the 2 billion-won ($1.74 million) mark. Hanwha Galleria’s request to cut the rent, which is around 25 billion won a year, is known to have been rejected by the airport operator. YONHAP

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