[THE INVESTOR] Hanwha’s Galleria Duty Free Store announced on March 9 that it has signed a contract with two Middle East travel agencies to bring in customers and will sign another with a local agent when it participates in a travel fair in the region next month.
“The purchasing power of Middle Eastern clients is 30 percent higher than that of Chinese, and many are coming here for medical tourism,” said a company official.
The nation’s duty-free and tourism industries are bracing for the fallout of China’s retaliation over the deployment of THAAD that have already slashed the inbound tourism from China.
The duty-free store will expand its partnership with major hospitals from the current Yeouido St. Mary’s Hospital to include Soon Chun Hyang University Hospital and Chung-Ang University Hospital.
In the latter half of last year, four restaurants in the 63 Building that houses the duty-free store have acquired “Muslim friendly” endorsement from Korea Tourism Organization for their halal certification.
It will step up its effort to court customers from Southeast Asia as well, and has already signed contracts with 79 travel companies from the region.
The uncertainties surrounding the duty-free industry would become an occasion to enhance the profitability of the business by diversifying customers, attracting free individual tourists, and strengthening foreign VIPS, said Han Seong-ho, head of the duty-free division at Hanwha Galleria Timeworld, adding that the company is positively reviewing its bid for a store at Incheon International Airport.
By Hwang You-mee (firstname.lastname@example.org)