The Korea Herald


Korea to add more flights to prepare for China’s travel rush

By Lee Yoon-seo

Published : Aug. 16, 2023 - 19:04

    • Link copied

Chinese group travelers are seen at Incheon Airport Terminal 1 on Tuesday. (Yonhap) Chinese group travelers are seen at Incheon Airport Terminal 1 on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

Korea Airports Corp. said Wednesday it is considering adding some 4,500 flights connecting the nation’s seven provincial airports to cities in China by the end of this year, to better respond to China’s travel rush in the coming months.

The state-run airport operator held an emergency meeting earlier in the day to discuss measures regarding the Chinese government’s recent decision to lift a ban on group tours to Korea.

"As China’s group travel to Korea resumes for the first time in six years, we will closely cooperate with local governments and the tourism industry so that many (Chinese travelers) can visit Korea using local airports," said Yoon Hyeong-jung, CEO of KAC, via a press release.

According to the KAC, the number of Chinese travelers entering the country via local airports logged only 125,000 for the first half of 2023, recovering by only 18.8 percent compared to 2019 -- before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that drastically reduced travel demand.

Following the recent lifting of a travel ban, the KAC said demand for travel to Korea is expected to soar later this year, especially around China’s National Day on Sept. 29.

With an aim to attract some 720,000 Chinese travelers, the KAC said it plans to develop new flight routes between the two countries, hold duty-free merchandise discount promotions, establish an exclusive goods pickup zone for Chinese group travelers and develop low-cost tour packages.

In addition, KAC said it plans to cooperate with local governments to operate tourism charter flights linked to local Korean cultural events, while putting efforts forward to develop corporate incentive travel programs that reward high-performing employees with trips, as well as medical tourism packages.