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中国游客无视萨德争端 赴韩游人次不降反升
Chinese tourism to South Korea booms despite missile shield spat

2017-1-11 19:10| 发布者: 忘忧草| 查看: 209| 评论: 0

摘要: Record numbers of Chinese travellers visited South Korea last year, with the pull of food and shopping trumping politics even after Beijing’s warnings that tourism would be hit by fallout from Seoul ...
Chinese tourism to South Korea booms despite missile shield spat
Record numbers of Chinese travellers visited South Korea last year, with the pull of food and shopping trumping politics even after Beijing’s warnings that tourism would be hit by fallout from Seoul’s decision to install a US ballistic missile shield.

There were more than 3.8m Chinese tourist entries into South Korea in the four months following Seoul’s July decision to host the US’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system, a 27 per cent year-on-year increase. Chinese state media had said visitor numbers would plummet.

Some of the relative rise is explained by a drop in tourist demand caused by an outbreak of the Mers virus in 2015. But the 2016 figures are also a large increase over the same period in 2014, when South Korea welcomed about 2.3m Chinese tourists, according to official statistics.

The numbers suggest limitations to China’s efforts to mobilise its tens of millions of outbound tourists for policy ends. Analysts said South Korea’s proximity to China and the enduring appeal of its cuisine, pop culture and cosmetics among Chinese tourists suggested numbers would continue to grow in 2017.

South Korea says the Thaad platform will defend it against attacks from nuclear-capable North Korea but China views it as undermining its own defence capabilities. A Chinese official last week privately warned some of South Korea’s largest companies that business would suffer if the Thaad plans proceeded. Lotte Group has faced Chinese probes after it sold land for the shield’s installation.

The Chinese government last year informed South Korean tour agencies of plans to cut tourism from China by 20 per cent and limit shopping days on tours, diplomats briefed on the matter have said. But political tensions were “not really a factor” determining Chinese visitor numbers last year, with the appeal of K-pop and local cosmetics brands playing the main role, said Ruyi Xu, director of China research at Mintel, a consultancy. “I think the data speaks for itself.”

The Global Times, which has close ties to China’s ruling Communist party, reported in August that “South Korea’s tourism industry has to run into a strong headwind as anti-South Korea sentiment grows,” warning that “no other country can fill the vacancy if Chinese visitors go away”.

However, Daniel Meesak of Jing Travel, which monitors Chinese tourists, said that while “Chinese media have been pushing this agenda” that tourist visits would decline, “the numbers simply point in a different direction”.

Beijing has denied applications from South Korean airlines to add charter flights between the two countries for January and February — a peak travel season that includes the lunar new year holiday. Several of China’s main package-tour companies are state-run, potentially giving officials more sway.

But those companies have become less important as Chinese travellers increasingly book independent travel through websites such as Ctrip, according to Maggie Rauch, an Asian tourism analyst at Phocuswright. Beijing could also move to alter its visa regime, she added, although that “would be a long-term project”.

Meanwhile, the rise has prompted some soul-searching online. Under a thread titled “If South Korea has installed Thaad, why have tourist numbers gone up?” on question-and-answer site Zhihu, one user joked: “Maybe because they have relative confidence in Thaad’s attack and defence capabilities”.

Additional reporting by Song Jung-a in Seoul

由于饮食和购物的吸引力压过了政治,去年中国赴韩游客人数创下纪录,尽管北京方面之前多次警告称,韩国政府部署美国弹道导弹防御系统的决定所产生的后果,将对韩国旅游业造成打击。

在首尔方面去年7月决定允许美国在韩部署末段高空区域防御系统(THAAD,中文简称:萨德)之后的4个月里,赴韩旅游的中国游客超过380万人次,同比增长27%。中国官媒曾表示,游客人数或大幅下滑。

游客人数的相对上升,部分可用2015年中东呼吸综合征(MERS)病毒爆发导致的旅游需求下滑来解释。不过,官方统计数据显示,2016年的数字相对2014年同期也出现大幅上升。2014年同期,韩国接待了约230万人次的中国游客。

这些数字意味着,中国动员其数以千万计的出境游游客实现政策目标的努力存在局限。分析人士表示,韩国临近中国,其美食、流行文化及化妆品对中国游客有持续的吸引力,这意味着2017年的数字还会继续增长。

韩国表示,萨德系统可使韩免受具备核能力的朝鲜的打击。但中国认为,该系统削弱了中国自身的防卫能力。上周,一名中国官员私下警告韩国部分大企业称,如果推进萨德计划,它们的生意将会受到影响。由于曾转让土地用于萨德系统的部署,乐天集团(Lotte Group)已受到中国方面的调查。

被介绍过相关情况的外交官表示,去年中国政府通知赴韩旅行社,计划将中国赴韩游客减少20%、并对旅途中的购物天数作出限制。不过,咨询机构英敏特(Mintel)中国研究总监徐如一表示,政治紧张局面并不是决定去年中国游客人数的“真正因素”,发挥主要作用的是韩流和韩国化妆品牌的吸引力。“我认为数据本身说明了一切。”

与执政的中共关系密切的《环球时报》(Global Times)去年8月报道称,随着反韩情绪不断增长,韩国旅游业必将遭遇强劲的顶头风。该报还警告称,如果中国游客走开,没有哪个国家能填补这个空缺。

然而,跟踪研究中国游客的《精旅传媒》(Jing Travel)的丹尼尔?米萨克(Daniel Meesak)表示,尽管“中国媒体一直在推进(游客人次会减少)这个议题,数据却指向了另一个方向”。

中国政府已否决了韩国航空公司提出的、为今年1月和2月增添两国间包机航班的申请——这段时期是涵盖农历春节假期的旅游高峰季。中国主要的包办(package tour)旅游公司中,有数家是国营的,这可能会让官方拥有更大的影响力。

不过,按照Phocuswright亚洲旅游业分析师玛吉?劳赫(Maggie Rauch)的说法,随着越来越多的中国游客通过携程(Ctrip)等网站订制自由行,上述旅游公司的重要性已然下降。

另一方面,游客人数的上升也在网上引发了一些反思。在问答网站“知乎”的一个名为“为什么韩国部署萨德系统了,中国去韩国旅游的人数这两天反而变多了?”的话题中,一个用户开玩笑地答道:“可能他们比较信任萨德的拦截和攻击能力吧。 ”

宋京雅(Song Jung-a)首尔补充报道

译者/简易


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