May 2, 2018 / 6:25 AM / a year ago

South Korea sees a rebound in number of Chinese tourists: finance minister

Chinese tourists pose for a group photo at the Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul, South Korea, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

SEJONG, South Korea (Reuters) - South Korea’s finance minister said on Wednesday that there was a rise in the number of Chinese tourists in March although the service sector has not yet recovered from a drop in such visitors due to tensions between the two countries.

“The number of Chinese tourists is noticeably increasing since March, although it hasn’t recovered to the pre-Thaad level,” Kim Dong-yeol told reporters in Sejong, south of Seoul.

Tourist numbers plunged last year after South Korea angered China by deploying a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system that features radar which Beijing believes could be used to penetrate its territory.

Kim did not cite any numbers showing an increase in March in tourists from China.

The Bank of Korea estimated earlier that the THAAD backlash knocked 0.4 percentage points off South Korea’s economic growth rate in 2017.

Reporting by Shin-hyung Lee and Cynthia Kim; Editing by Richard Borsuk

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