Oceans Minister Kim Young-choon soon announced that the government would seek ways to draw more cruise passengers outside of China via a variety of travel incentives to revitalize local market, which was hit by diplomatic tension with Beijing.
The cruise industry market of the country enjoyed a boom in 2016 with an influx of Chinese tourists, but cruise ships steered away from ports in South Korea after Beijing, China took punitive action due to Seoul's decision to host US missile defense system in May.
Kim Young-choon said the ministry was communicating with Hyundai Asan Corporation to launch national-flagged carrier ship, in a bid to appeal to travelers who want to visit South Korea.
Resuming tours to North Korea might be difficult under elevated military tension, so the minister proposed alternative courses for major port cities, such as Jeju, Incheon, Sokcho and Busan. Linking the cities with Russia's far eastern city of Vladivostok and Japan's west coast could be an option to bolster the cruise market.
Tourists arriving on cruise ships last year reached 1.95 million, which had an economic effect of more than 5 trillion won (US$4.43 billion) for the tourism sector and created around 20,000 jobs. Cruisers around the world surpassed 24 million in 2016, according to South Korea's Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.