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A new art exhibition is just one of many good reasons to visit Jeju Island. Photo: Shutterstock Ever since Beijing decided to impose a blanket ban on group travel to South Korea, the country’s tourism industry has been in dire straits. While the effects of the travel ban have perhaps been less noticeable in Seoul as it remains frequented by independent travelers, the same can’t be said for popular tour group destinations beyond the capital. Among the hardest hit is Jeju Island , a former top Chinese tourist destination in the Korea Strait. The attractions for Chinese tourists are many, including beach resorts and picturesque scenery. However, beyond that, Jeju Island also offers Chinese nationals visa-free entry—something not offered on the Korean mainland—one of many reasons the island province turned into such a tour group magnet. In the spirit of tourism development and increasing tourism revenues, Jeju is also the home to numerous casinos that have proven particularly attractive to Chinese consumers. Jeju Island is the by far most convenient Korean destination for Chinese tourists to visit Last, but not least, Jeju’s cruise port can also accommodate large cruise ships, which—combined with all the other reasons listed above—made it a sure stop on cruise itineraries sold in the Chinese market. In fact, the removal of Korean destinations from Chinese cruise itineraries is even believed to be one of the key reasons to China’s deflating cruise market in the last year. While Chinese tourism may be slowly recovering in South Korea owing to a general shift toward independent travel in the market—and therefore unaffected by the travel ban—visitation remains far off where it was before China imposed its ban.
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