Citi Bank President Park Jin-hei (center left) and Lotte Duty Free CEO Jang Seon-wook (centrer right). [Photo provided by Lotte Duty Free]
Lotte Duty Free, with its business hit hard by a plunge in Chinese tourists, has teamed up with Citibank Korea to draw Asian shoppers through premium service and discounts.
The two companies said Thursday they struck an alliance to offer premium benefits to Citibank VIP customers in the Asia Pacific region, including Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, starting next month.
Under the agreement, Citibank VIP customers shopping in Lotte Duty Free outlets in Seoul would receive large discounts and personal shopper services.
High-net-worth Citibank Korea clients would also enjoy up to 20 percent discounts at Lotte Duty Free stores, including premium-level privileges offline and diamond-level privileges online. The beneficiaries are Citi Private clients, individuals with a net worth of more than 1 billion won ($0.95 million); Citigold clients, individuals with assets under management ranging from 200 million won to 1 billion won; and credit card VIPs.
Citibank Korea said the recent effort is aimed to help boost the Korean tourism industry and expand its tourist base following China’s ban on group tours to Korea last year that took a heavy toll on local businesses.
In March 2017, Beijing, in retaliation for Seoul’s installment of a U.S.-backed missile system, banned travel agencies from selling group tours to Korea. The number of Chinese visitors nearly halved in the first nine months of the year as a result, costing the Korean economy $6.5 billion in lost revenue, according to Hyundai Research Institute. Chinese tourists have since rebounded after a thawing in relations between the two countries but still fall short of the level prior to the ban.
Citibank Korea said it would continue pursuing various partnerships to offer more diverse benefits for its customers. The Korean unit, which has downsized the number of outlets to 44 from 133 since last year as part of its massive restructuring, recently announced its net profit rose 14.9 percent on year to 243.7 billion won in 2017.
By Chung Joo-won and Kim Hyo-jin
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]