South Korea is welcoming the first cruise from China heading to Jeju Island after a six-year hiatus. However, Chinese analysts have a cautiously optimistic view about the sector’s prospects, as the load factor is lower than expected amid political uncertainties in bilateral relations.
Sailing from Shanghai Baoshan Port, the Blue Dream Star started its five-day trip to Nagasaki in Japan via Jeju Island in South Korea, according to the official website of the operator, Blue Dream Cruises China.
It is the first cruise sailing to South Korea after China resumed the third batch of group tours to 78 countries and regions in August.
The Jeju Island government announced that as of August 17, a total of 267 cruise ships departing from China had applied for midway berthing at Jeju Port and Gangting Port, indicating a possible “tide” of Chinese group tourists.
The Global Times learned that Blue Dream Star carried fewer than 800 passengers during its stop in South Korea. The 25,000-ton cruise ship can carry 1,053 travelers.
“My family will cancel our bookings for the upcoming trip to South Korea and Japan, although it will cost us 70% of the full ticket price,” Feng Xiaorui, a traveler from Wuxi, East China's Jiangsu Province told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Safety and health issues are major concerns of Chinese travelers. Feng said the family is worried about health and safety as Japan is dumping nuclear-contaminated water into the sea.
Chinese tourists now favor domestic travel, according to a report published by travel platform Ctrip. During the summer holiday peak, the number of ticket bookings for domestic tourist attractions was up 315% from 2019.
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