Two travel agencies in Beijing confirmed on Sunday that they will begin to offer group tours to South Korea very soon, after some travel packages to the country were reportedly halted for months following South Korea's deployment of the THAAD defense system.
An employee from China Youth Travel Service surnamed Li told the Global Times that they have been preparing the travel packages to South Korea since December and will start to offer group tours from January.
Another employee of China International Travel Service told the Global Times that the company is planning a tour group to South Korea on December 19, but he could not guarantee its success as nobody has signed up so far.
Separately, Beijing Youth Daily reported on Sunday that a group of 32 visitors left Beijing for South Korea on Saturday, the first group tour from the Chinese mainland to South Korea since March.
According to the report, the tour was organized by Haitao Travel, and the group obtained their visas on Thursday. The visitors would take an Asiana Airlines flight for a five-day trip in South Korea.
A manager from Haitao Travel told the newspaper that tours to South Korea will be gradually restored based on demand but will not reach the same volume of last year in the short term.
The newspaper also quoted an insider as saying that the tour groups will "avoid" all industries owned by Lotte, and will now be doing their duty free shopping at Shilla outlets.
In March, many tourist services to South Korea were withdrawn from major Chinese platforms, including Tuniu and Ctrip, due to tensions caused by the decision to deploy the THAAD system.