In Seoul (Source: AFP)
 
Seoul (VNA) – The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea (RoK) announced on December 18 that it will focus on attracting more visitors from Southeast Asia, as part of efforts to diversify its tourist portfolio after suffering a sharp drop in inbound foreigners as a result of a diplomatic row with China.

Speaking at a pan-government meeting convened by Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, the ministry’s representative said the government will concentrate its policy efforts on promoting the country's tourism to people from Indonesia, Vietnam and India, as well as those from Taiwan and Hong Kong of China, and seek ways to simplify their entry into the country.

At the event, the RoK government also decided to prepare more high-value tour programmes for foreign visitors to seek a qualitative growth.

Other promotion measures include developing packages in connection with "hallyu" - the Korean Wave of popular culture, expanding medical tours, and increasing facilities for cruise tours.

The RoK's tourism industry took a hit following China's decision to ban the selling of Korea-bound tourism packages since March in an apparent retaliation against the deployment of the US anti-missile system here.

Chinese nationals accounted for nearly half of the 17 million foreigners who visited the country last year.

Late last month, China decided to partially lift its prohibition as the two countries moved to restore their bilateral ties, but industry watchers say it will take some time for Chinese tourists to actually return in large numbers.-VNA