Industry News

Pyeongchang 2018 boost as Chinese travel ban ends  

China has given a boost to 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics organisers by ending its ban on sales of online tourist group packages to South Korea.

The nine-month group travel ban had a major impact on ticket sales for the international multi-sport event.

The sanction was lifted on Tuesday, and tour packages for both private and government-backed tour agencies have begun to reappear online.

In 2016, more than half of the 17 million foreigners that visited South Korea were Chinese. The Olympic pressures to perform internationally and prosper locally made the home nation vulnerable to China’s tourism.

The ban cost the South Korean economy $6.5bn (€5.5bn/£4.8bn) in revenue, according to Forbes, a loss that would’ve widened to $15.6bn by March 2018.

Organisers of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics are aiming to sell more than 90 per cent of the 1.07 million available tickets prior to the start of the event.

Earlier this month, a total of 55 per cent of tickets have been shifted for the games in South Korea, with only 55 days to go until the event kicks off, low numbers are one of the biggest concerns for organisers.

In November, poor ticket sales pushed the South Korean government to allow visa-free travel to tourists from Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. The open border lasts until next April with visitors required to enter in groups through Yangyang international airport.