Foreign tourism continues to decline in Feb.

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Foreign tourism continues to decline in Feb.

The number of foreigners who visited Korea last month dropped 16.5 percent on-year, the 12th straight month of decline despite the PyeongChang Winter Olympics mainly due to a plunge in the number of Chinese tourists, government data showed Friday.

The total number of inbound visitors came to 1.05 million in February despite Korea’s hosting of the 17-day international sports event in the country’s alpine resort town of Pyeongchang, some 180 kilometers east of Seoul, according to the data from the Korea Tourism Organization.

The drop was largely attributed to a sharp decline in the number of Chinese nationals who visited the country, which stood at 590,790, down 41.5 percent on-year.

The number of Chinese tourists visiting has been on a constant decline following a diplomatic row between Seoul and Beijing over the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system.

After months of dispute, the two countries agreed to normalize their bilateral ties, but little change has been felt by the local tourism industry.

A total of 13.3 million foreigners visited Korea in 2017, down 22.7 percent from a year earlier, according to government data. Among them, Chinese accounted for about 31 percent. In 2016, 46 percent of 17 million foreign visitors to Korea were Chinese.

Some 2,600 tourists from Vietnam and the Philippines are planning to visit Korea via Yangyang International Airport near Pyeongchang from next week until the end of April using the temporary visa waiver program, according to the tourism promotion agency.

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