Chinese tour groups return to Lotte Duty Free as South Korea travel approved

By Kristiane Sherry |

Chinese tour groups at Lotte Duty Free.

Chinese tour groups have returned to South Korea for the first time since March 2017.

Lotte Duty Free has welcomed Chinese tour groups back to its Myeongdong Main Store after a six-and-a-half-year hiatus, as China adds South Korea to its approved list of tour destinations.

More than 150 car ferry passengers visited the store yesterday [23 August], the first since March 2017, which marked the start of the THAAD anti-missile system dispute between the two countries.

Tourism was then halted with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The group entered Lotte Duty Free store and shopped for an hour as part of a two-night package tour. They had travelled on the New Grand Peace ferry between Weihai Port in Shandong Province and Pyeongtaek Port in Gyeonggi, China.

Popular products included K-beauty brands Laneige and Mediheal, international cosmetics names Chanel and Lancôme, and citrus chocolate and seasoned seaweed. 

A further 270 passengers are expected to visit the shop via the Seokdo-Incheon car ferry today [24 August].

Chinese tour groups: marketing campaigns planned

Lotte said in a statement that the domestic tourism industry is “full of expectations” [from translation] ahead of the Mid-Autumn Festival in September, and National Day in early October. 

It added that it plans to attract customers to both its Myeongdong Main Store and Jamsil World Tower Store by optimising the shopping infrastructure of the spaces.

Queues form outside Lotte Duty Free’s Myeongdong Main Store 

Marketing promotions are also planned for its Busan and Jeju stores as cruise ships carrying Chinese and Japanese passengers are scheduled to dock soon. 

“We expect the domestic duty free industry to regain its vitality as early as the fourth quarter, with Chinese passenger ships visiting Korea one after another after group visas are granted,” a spokesperson said.

Earlier this year, Lotte Duty Free unveiled a new ‘mobile passport service’ allowing customers to make duty free purchases at its downtown stores without using their physical passports.

The retailer also recently reopened its Gimhae International Airport store in Busan following a full refurbishment of the 992sqm space. 


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