Chinese Travel Ban Ridiculed on Twitter: "Come to Korea Where There Are No Chinese"
Not content with targeting K-Pop stars, Lotte Mart, and even video games, China has intensified their protest of South Korea's implementation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system by implementing a recent travel ban. But although this should pose a significant threat to the South Korean tourism industry, a defiant response has been to actually welcome the travel ban by proudly saying: "Come to South Korea. There are no Chinese Tourists."
Twitter user @ReinerSchwarz used a parodies of travel advertisements to subvert the threat of the travel ban. Instead of messages of friendliness, international tourists are instead beckoned to South Korea specifically because it doesn't have any Chinese tourists.
"(A) Chinese-Free Country: South Korea!" and "South Korea: The land of Morning Calm. Chinese-Free" are but two of the messages of the fake ads, as are "Come to Korea where there are no loud Chinese and you can do leisurely sightseeing" and "Come to Korea where there are no Chinese, and you can welcome a quiet morning."
ReinerSchwarz considers the travel ban to be an act of "revenge" by the Chinese government over the implementation of THAAD. He wrote: "Although the US military manages the operation of THAAD, but China cannot complain to the US anything [sic]."
Last Thursday, South Korean news broadcaster Yonhap reported that China's national tourism administration has told the country's travel agencies to stop offering group travel tours from Beijing to South Korea. Chinese travel agency Tuniu has taken the travel ban even farther by revoking all available trips from China to South Korea the following day.
A lot is at stake as Chinese tourists account for nearly half of the country's visitors, according to the Korea Tourism Organization. The importance of South Korea's neighbor can't be denied when considering 85 percent of the 3.1 million visitors that visited visa-free Jeju Island last year are from China.
It may seem like China definitely has the upper hand. And yet, we've seen the exact situation play out before, and it's not one that worked out for China.
When Chinese tourists began shunning the self-governed island of Taiwan last year, residents came up with a similar travel ad parody:
Despite the strong stand taken by the parody, news reports first painted the situation as grim for the Taiwanese tourism industry. After last May's inauguration of President Tsai Ing-wen, mainland Chinese tourists stayed away from Taiwan in droves, plummeting 48 percent last October.
However, China's pressure on tour operators to reduce mainland tourists from visiting Taiwan backfired spectacularly.
Despite the drop in mainland Chinese visitors, tourism in Taiwan actually increased last year, jumping to 10.7 million visitors, up from 10.4 million in 2015. This prompted Taiwan's new president to send out the following tweet:
More people visited Taiwan in 2016 than EVER. Thank you! 谢谢！ありがとうございました! 감사합니다! ขอขอบคุณ! Terima Kasih! Salamat! Cảm ơn! धन्यवाद!
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) February 8, 2017
As far as we know, Taiwan did not officially use "Chinese tourist-free" as a selling point to attract foreign tourists.
So with South Korea the latest target of a mainland Chinese travel ban that has included Taiwan and Hong Kong in the past, we can only imagine that hot deals of Japanese electronic goods will soon be beckoning Chinese tourists.
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