Seoul Is Asians' Favorite Travel Destination

Seoul is the preferred travel destination of Chinese, Japanese and Thai tourists. According to a straw poll of 800 Chinese, 500 Japanese, and 300 Thais in their respective countries in December, 11.4 percent, 9.8 percent and 20 percent said Seoul is a city they want to visit within the year, the Seoul city government said Wednesday.

Regardless of actual travel plans, the largest percentage or 14.3 percent of Thais chose Seoul as their favorite city, while the second largest proportion, or 7 percent of Japanese respondents picked Seoul after Honolulu (8 percent). Seoul was the third favorite city of Chinese people with 7.3 percent after Paris and Tokyo.

In multiple answers to the question why they wanted to visit Seoul, 57.4 percent of Chinese respondents, 50.2 percent of Thais and 36.8 percent of Japanese said they were attracted by watching ads for Seoul or Korean soap operas on TV or the Internet. This indicates that the Korean pop culture boom and the city government's overseas TV ads have proved effective in attracting foreign tourists.

The number of foreign tourists to Seoul stood at about 7.8 million last year, up 13.2 percent from the previous year's 6.89 million.

The three countries had different ideas about what image the city should promote. Most Chinese respondents suggested a city "with many things to enjoy"; most Japanese a city "where shopping is fun"; and most Thais a "traditional city."

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 14, 2010 09:33 KST