Korea strengthens regulations on large Chinese tour groups

A group of Chinese tourists leave the port of Gangjeong on Jeju Island and head to a bus terminal for a city tour, June 26. Yonhap

Korea will implement stricter regulations to eliminate large Chinese group tours, also known as “dumping tours” for their cheap prices, which have been identified as a major cause of tourist complaints, according to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Sunday.

Such tours refer to practices where travel agencies attract tourists with unreasonably low prices and profit by including nonstop shopping activities, earning commissions from vendors along the way.

The ministry revised the guidelines for travel agencies, designated to attract Chinese group tourists, to take administrative measures against those who violate regulations to eliminate these lower-priced package tours that include shopping, beginning from Monday.

Specifically, the ministry will take measures against the so-called “zero-fee tours,” where travel agencies do not receive expenses from local Chinese companies, as well as against those who coerce group tourists into 온라인카지노 shopping and fail to pay legitimate costs to tour interpreters.

The ministry will review and inspect the profit structures reported by travel agencies to see if they rely excessively on shopping fees for profit.

Additionally, the Korea Association of Travel Agencies, the Korea Duty Free Shops Association and duty- free shops will collaborate with the ministry to check whether travel agencies follow the regulation on shopping sites.

This year, the number of Chinese visitors to Korea is estimated to have surpassed last year’s total of 2 million between January and June alone. This figure represents 30 percent of all inbound tourists to Korea during that period.

In particular, the proportion of Chinese tourists entering the country on group tour visas has exceeded 10 percent and approached 12 percent, a level comparable to pre-pandemic figures from 2019.

The regulations on low-cost tours aim to address complaints from tourists regarding forced shopping practices among others, especially amid the rapid recovery of inbound tourism from China, the ministry said.

Earlier this year, the ministry, for the first time, suspended businesses of tour agencies that attracted Chinese group tourists at unreasonably low prices or relied solely on shopping fees to make profit.

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