Malaysia, Vietnam hit as tourists head for East Asia

Updated: 2014-06-11 07:15

By Zheng Xin (China Daily)

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More tourists from China have been heading to East Asia in recent months, deterred from traveling to traditionally popular destinations such as Malaysia and Vietnam.

Travel agencies nationwide have reported a 50 percent year-on-year increase in visits to South Korea in the past few months.

"While some tourists canceled trips to Southeast Asia, most chose other places. South Korea, with its convenient flights and affordable tour packages, has won many Chinese hearts," said Shi Kaifeng, a publicity officer at International, a Chinese online travel agency.

The agency estimated that more than 100,000 Chinese tourists would head to South Korea via its service this year.

Other agencies, including China International Travel Services and BTG International Travel and Tours, have reported similar increases.

Other short-haul destinations such as Japan, Cambodia and Singapore are also seeing more tourists from China, Shi said.

Yang Jinsong, a professor at the China Tourism Academy who focuses on international tourism, said mainland travelers have become less willing to visit Southeast Asia.

This is due to negative impressions following the disappearance in March of a Malaysia Airlines plane on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The Boeing 777-200 was carrying 239 people, 154 of them Chinese.

Yang said Chinese tourists have also been deterred by anti-China violence in Vietnam, disturbances in the Philippines and Thailand and misunderstandings between mainland tourists and Hong Kong residents.

The China National Tourism Administration has warned tourists against visiting Vietnam, while some mainland travel agencies have suspended tours to some destinations in Southeast Asia.

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