More than 3,400 Chinese passengers aboard a cruise ship over the weekend refused to go ashore at Jeju in protest over the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in South Korea.
The ship Costa Serena arrived in Jeju at 1 p.m. on Saturday and was scheduled to depart for Tianjin, China at 9 p.m. However, Chinese passengers refused to disembark, so the ship left four hours earlier than planned.
This was bad news for shops and vendors who make their living off of Chinese tourism.
A Jeju government official said: “The local travel agency told us only after the ship dropped anchor that the passengers wouldn’t be disembarking.”
According to the Chosun Ilbo:
Some 80 charter buses and tour guides that had been on standby to herd the group around Jeju waited in vain for business.
About 700 cruise ships are to dock on the island this year, most from China. Local tourism businesses worry that many more passengers will not leave their ships.
Meanwhile, some 86 flights between Jeju and 14 Chinese cities will be suspended or canceled starting Wednesday, more than half of the 159 that link the island to mainland China.