Lotte Duty Free shop has begun a full-fledged effort to diversify its foreign visitor base in response to what it described as the Chinese “tourism crisis” linked to the THAAD anti-missile system dispute.
As reported, Lotte and other South Korean retailers have been hard hit by a China National Travel Administration (CNTA) ban on group travel to South Korea that took effect on 15 March.
Lotte Duty Free has responded by stepping up its efforts to attract more Japanese visitors. Led by CEO Jang Seon-wook, the company attended the Korea Travel Expo in Tokyo and Osaka on 23 and 24 March, alongside three Lotte Group sister companies, including Lotte Hotel and Lotte World Adventure. The group said the exhibition was a good opportunity to underline the excellence of South Korea’s tourism sector and to unveil Lotte World Tower tour products scheduled for a Grand Opening on 3 April.
Lotte Duty Free noted a particularly positive reaction to its Lotte World Tower tour products, including its duty free shopping offer. The promotions focused on integrated tours that combine shopping, leisure and sightseeing.
Lotte Duty Free has geared up its efforts to lure more Japanese visitors since last September, having also hosted promotions in Fukuoka and Hokkaido. It is using various platforms, including magazine and online media, to maximise awareness of South Korea.
“Lotte Duty Free is planning to further expand its activities by participating in overseas travel fairs to diversify the balance of foreign tourists,” said Jang. “We will achieve a balanced tourism market base.”
The number of Japanese tourists visiting South Korea dropped -19.4% in the MERS-hit 2015 to 1,837,782 but grew +25% in 2016 to 2,297,893. For the first two months of 2017, Japanese visitor numbers rose by +20.8% to 339,894.
Lotte is also targeting Thailand and Indonesia to help diversify the foreign visitor base. Last year saw a +26.5% surge in Thai visitors to 470,107, while Indonesian numbers rocketed by +52.6% to 295,461.