The Korea Herald

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지나쌤

Jeju loses grip on domestic visitors, hopes for Chinese return

Island sees 16% drop in domestic tourist visits in July-Aug. peak season

By No Kyung-min

Published : Sept. 4, 2023 - 14:22

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Chinese tourists on a group tour visit Jeju's Yongduam Rock on Thursday. (Yonhap) Chinese tourists on a group tour visit Jeju's Yongduam Rock on Thursday. (Yonhap)

Jeju, South Korea's southern resort island, saw a 16 percent drop in domestic tourist arrivals in the peak vacation season of July and August, data showed Monday.

According to statistics provided by the Jeju Tourism Association, the volcanic island received some 2.13 million domestic tourists in the two-month period. That is about 397,000 less visits, compared to the previous year's figure of 2.53 million.

Total tourist arrivals encompassing both domestic and foreign visitors came in at 2.3 million during the period, down 9 percent from 2.54 million a year earlier.

It is the first time for the island to see a decrease in tourist numbers during the peak summer season since March 2020.

Jeju has been witnessing a decline in tourist visits for five consecutive months since April this year, as more Koreans opt for overseas destinations in the post-COVID-19 era.

In an effort to attract more inbound travelers, the island province is implementing various initiatives, such as launching campaigns aimed at rebranding Jeju's image and developing unique tour programs.

Additionally, the island is preparing a charm offensive targeting Chinese tourists, following China's recent decision to lift the ban on group tours to South Korea.

Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, Chinese visitors constituted 62.5 percent of the 1.72 million tourists from abroad visiting the island.