Duty-free stores look to attract travelers amid uptick in tourism
Duty-free stores are getting ready for more customers as the tourism industry comes back to life.
A month has passed since fully vaccinated travelers coming to Korea were exempt from the mandatory seven-day quarantine, and some duty-free branches will start operating longer hours to accommodate more visitors.
Extended business hours will be applied to branches where many foreign tourists visit, such as ones in Myeongdong, central Seoul.
Shinsegae Duty Free’s Myeondong branch will be open until 6:30 p.m. on the weekends starting this Saturday, giving customers an additional 30 minutes to shop. Weekend business hours will be extended 30 minutes until 6:30 p.m. starting May.
Lotte Duty Free’s Myeondong branch and Jamsil World Tower branch in southern Seoul will open an additional hour until 6:30 p.m. on weekends also starting Saturday. The same one-hour extension will be applied for weekday business hours starting May.
Companies are offering various discounts and promotions to attract visitors.
Lotte Duty Free announced Thursday it will offer a maximum 80 percent discount on products from brands such as Marc Jacobs and Longchamp.
A payback scheme will return a cut of customers’ purchases. People who make purchases over $550 will get 20,000 won ($16.20) back in LDF Pay, which is loyalty points that can be used as cash at the duty-free store. A maximum of 630,000 won worth of LDF Pay will be awarded to customers who spend over $4,000.
Couples who are set to wed will be given discount vouchers for hotel bookings, roaming services and currency exchange if they present their wedding invitation.
"We are offering more benefits for people visiting Lotte Duty Free amid excitement for international travel and high hopes for return to normalcy,” said Lee Sang-jin, head of the marketing division at Lotte Duty Free.
Shinsegae Duty Free partnered with Asiana Airlines to target travelers going to Hawaii.
People who buy Hawaii flight tickets on the carrier’s website between Wednesday and June 29 will get a maximum 20 percent discount on online orders on Shinsegae Duty Free within 90 days of purchase.
However, the companies are still waiting for the return of Chinese customers, which made up for a huge portion of sales both before and during the pandemic until recently.
Chinese travelers are slow to come back due to the ongoing lockdown in Shanghai. Beijing residents were advised by the city government to avoid leaving the city during the upcoming Labor Day holiday to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The holiday falls on May 1 and is one of the peak periods for vacations that would have greatly increased sales.
BY LEE TAE-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]