SOUTH KOREA. The Shilla Duty Free was today awarded the five-year duty free concession at Jeju International Airport.

Shilla beat off hot competition from its arch-rival, Lotte Duty Free, to win the concession.

The retailer takes over from Hanwha Galleria, which resigned the concession (due to run until April 2019) earlier this year due to the downturn in Chinese tourism caused by the THAAD crisis. As reported, Korea Airports Corporation revised the terms of the contract and slashed the guarantee levels.

With the row between China and South Korea apparently easing (though not fully resolved), Shilla’s timing appears to be optimum.

In a statement, The Shilla Duty Free said: “Hotel Shilla Co, the largest duty free operator in the Jeju area and operator of The Shilla Jeju (Hotel), will continue our contribution to the island’s overall tourism industry. Hotel Shilla Co will also deliver our best efforts to fulfil our corporate social responsibility on Jeju Island to build a sustainable and healthy relationship with the local community.”

A Lotte Duty Free spokesman said: “Lotte Duty Free shop did its best to bid for the Jeju Airport duty free shop, but unfortunately did not obtain patent rights. In the future, Lotte Duty Free will continue to make efforts to revitalise the Jeju region through the development of the Korean tourism and tax free industries as well as the Jeju downtown store.”

Is Jeju Island about to witness a resurgence of Chinese travel? The Shilla Duty Free may have got its timing just right.

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