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South Korea ‘blocks’ budget tours from Vietnam

By VnExpress   October 24, 2016 | 11:10 am GMT+7
South Korea ‘blocks’ budget tours from Vietnam
Youngsters in South Korean traditional costume hanbok. Photo courtesy of the Korea Tourism Organization's Vietnamese branch.

The country has turned its back on guided tours costing less than $540.

Any tour costing less than VND12 million ($538) from Vietnam to South Korea will no longer receive financial support for advertising campaigns from the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), the Vietnamese branch of the organization has announced.

Le Thi Thu Trang, the head of the KTO’s Vietnamese branch, said that the move is expected to prevent cheap, low-quality tours reaching South Korea.

Several years ago, Vietnamese tourists paid nearly VND20 million ($900) for a tour to visit South Korea but now many tourism agencies are offering tours under VND12 million. These tours often drive tourists to shopping centers, which reduces the time they can spend sightseeing and makes them feel tired.

“We have been supporting Vietnamese travel agencies, but from now on we will stop giving incentives to any businesses that offers tours costing less than VND12 million,” Trang was quoted by Saigon Times as saying.

The number of Vietnamese tourists entering South Korea has grown exponentially in the last few years. In 2012, 106,000 Vietnamese tourists visited South Korea, but that figure is forecast to more than double to 240,000 this year.

Such strong development is partly attributed to a large investment KTO has poured to support Vietnamese enterprises, Trang told Saigon Times, refusing to disclose the specific figure.

On October 20, the KTO and Vietnam’s National Administration of Tourism signed an agreement to boost tourism between the two countries.

The agreement set a target of two million visitors in 2017, up 17.7 percent against the estimated figure for this year. By 2018, the number of tourist traveling between the two countries is expected to hit three million.

South Korea is Vietnam’s second largest tourist market with a projected 1.5 million visitors arriving this year.

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