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Chinese holiday travel to South Korea plunges: Ctrip

[SINGAPORE] Ctrip.com International, China's largest travel website, said the number of tourists using the week-long national holiday to visit South Korea plunged 70 per cent this year, in the latest sign of economic fallout over their differing approaches to North Korea.

South Korea didn't make the top 20 destinations for the more than 6 million Ctrip users travelling abroad over the "golden week" holiday, after ranking No 1 during the same period last year, the company said.

Thailand rose from the No 2 spot to become this year's top destination for the Ctrip's roughly 300 million users.

About one-fifth of outbound Chinese travellers were visiting Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai, the company said.

Japan and Singapore were the most popular destinations after Thailand.

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Chinese tourists were expected to spend about 9,800 yuan (S$2,005.82) each, and were more willing to pay for experiences, rather than consumer goods, the report said.

Relations between China and South Korea have soured since the government in Seoul agreed last year to let its ally, the US, install a missile-defense system to guard against rockets fired by North Korea.

China views the so-called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system as a threat that will upset the "strategic equilibrium in the region".

South Korea's government has consistently asked China to remove curbs on its retail and tourism companies, with some of the country's consumers boycotting Korean goods.

The country said last month that is was considering legal action, such as filing a complaint with the World Trade Organisation.

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