Business

Tourist Numbers Plunge Over 20% Last Year

By Chae Sung-jin | January 23, 2018 13:14

The number of visitors to South Korea dropped 22.7 percent to 13.34 million last year, the Korea Tourism Organization said Monday.

The KTO said that the number misses the original target of 18 million but exceeded a target revised to 12.56 million after a Chinese boycott of Korean products. The boycott almost halved tourist numbers from China to 4.17 million.

The number of visitors from Europe, Japan and the U.S. rose until the first quarter of last year but then also began dropping in May due to North Korea's missile launches. Japanese tourists increased a mere 0.6 percent to 2.31 million.

However, tourism from Asia and the Middle East rose significantly. Numbers from Mongolia and Kazakhstan grew more than 30 percent, while the number of Russians, who have a growing interest in medical tourism, rose 15 percent.

Vietnamese tourists increased from 250,000 in 2016 to 320,000, and some 920,000 Taiwanese people visited the country last year, up 11 percent. Outbound travel hit a record high of 26.5 million people last year, up 18 percent from a year earlier, leading to an account deficit for the 16th year running.

The KTO said the deficit is expected to reach W14.45 trillion (US$1=W1,071).
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