SEOUL, Korea - Korea and Japan are competing to attract more Chinese tourists. According to the Korea Tourism Organization on Friday, a record 6.13 million Chinese tourists visited Korea in 2014, up 42 percent compared to 2013 while the total number of tourists visiting Korea rose only 17 percent to 14.2 million.
According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, the island country saw 2.4 million Chinese tourists in 2014, a surge of 83 percent from the previous year. In November alone, figures doubled on-year to 200,000.
That is remarkable because they had been a relatively steady 1 million a year for the previous six years and relations between the two countries are strained.
In 2011, around 3.6 million more tourists visited Korea than Japan, but last year the gap narrowed to less than 800,000.
Kim Sung-eun at KTO said, "Apart from the weak yen, this is the result of the Japanese government's aggressive efforts to lure tourists, opening large duty free shops, expanding the range of tax-free products, easing visa requirements and pitching cheap package tours."
Lee Sung-tae at the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute said, "Korea and Japan have both set a target of 2 million foreign tourists a year, so they're desperately trying to attract more Chinese visitors."
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