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Customized tour programs entertain Chinese tourists in Korea

2014/12/07 | 223 views | Permalink | Source

Six women in their early 30s from Guangzhou, China were visiting Korea last month. They wanted to visit Hongik University area, Garosu-gil in southern Seoul, or "Petit France" in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi Province (the place where hit drama "My Love from the Star" was filmed), rather than ordinary tourist attractions. They chose a customized tour program with which they can set their own itinerary as they please. Customized tour programs allow tourists to fix schedule as they want through counseling in advance, and get estimates accordingly.

With the number of tourists from China growing exponentially, travel products with simple tourist attractions are diversifying these days. Just comparing the prices for four-day tours, one can find a wide variety of products, including those costing 200,000 won (179 U.S. dollars) to 3 million won (2,690 dollars) per person.

As demands from tourists have diversified in recent months, exotic tour products with special themes have also made debut. A Hallyu tour program sold by a mid-sized tour company entails a course taking tourists to popular dance clubs in Gangnam, and the office buildings of SM Entertainment and YG Entertainment. There is also "K-wedding" program that includes skin message, makeup, and wedding photo-taking at studios.

The quality of Korean tour programs for Chinese people is truly diverse. People who use a VIP package stays at a five-star hotel in central Seoul, and travel by StarCraft van, dubbed "entertainers` van" in Korea. They enjoy shopping at department stores and duty free shops, and relax by taking message costing 200,000 won (179 dollars) to 300,000 won (269 dollars). They eat meals at Korean fusion restaurants or high-end Western restaurants in Apgujeong, affluent area in southern Seoul. This four-day tour package at around 2.5 million won (2,240 dollars) per person excluding airfare is popular mostly among professional career women in their 20s and 30s.

In contrast, people who buy ultra-cheap tour packages stay at a motel in the outskirts of Seoul or in the greater Seoul area. They move by tourist bus or van, and tour Gyeongbok Palace, Namsan, and Myeongdong in the capital. Amid such tight schedule, they are "obliged" to visit four to five shopping centers exclusively for Chinese tourists with "ultra-low" cost at 200,000 (179 dollars) won per person. They eat meals at restaurants almost exclusively for tourists, mostly eat samgyetang (Korean chicken soup with ginseng) and bibimbap (Korean mixed rice with meat and assorted Vegetables).

Recently, a growing number of Chinese tourists are opting for free travel products despite expensive prices in order to avoid bad practices involved in low-cost group tour packages. People who cannot afford to free travel use customized tour packages. Since these are customized products per see, the itinerary and contents widely vary among tour programs, but most tourists check in at a business hotel in the downtown area, and enjoy shopping in Myeongdong and Dongdaemun Market. Sometimes, they watch "Nanta" percussion performance, or eat "chicken and beer", dubbed "chi-maek", while some of those tourists take a day off to visit Seoul suburbs to enjoy leisurely time. Such a customized tour product costs about 1 million won (900 dollars) per person for a five-day trip, excluding airfare and lodging.

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