INCHEON, The number of Chinese travelers coming to Korea on cruise ships has yet to recover from last year's bilateral diplomatic row, shown by the cancellations of a series of planned visits, data showed Tuesday.
According to the Incheon Port Authority (IPA), 12 cruise ships either originating from or stopping in China were scheduled to drop by the port city, west of Seoul, in the first half of this year. Only four of them came, with the rest being canceled.
Fourteen cruise ships are scheduled to make port calls in Incheon in the second half of the year, including five from China, which IPA officials say may also be canceled.
Beijing had banned group package travels to South Korea in March last year in retaliation over South Korea's decision to host an advanced U.S. missile defense system, known as THAAD, on its soil. China insists that the system not only threatens stability in the region but is aimed at monitoring its missile movements. China in recent months signaled it was partially relaxing the ban, selectively approving package trips.
Some 164,800 Chinese visitors came to South Korean on 62 vessels in 2016, before the THAAD crisis. Last year, the number stopped at 30,000 on 17 port calls.
"The suspension of cruise ship visits from China has not eased despite the thawing mood for THAAD," an IPA official said. "The cruise ships that used to come to Incheon from various Chinese cities like Dalian, Tianjin and Qingdao are going to Hong Kong or Japan."
Source: Yonhap News Agency