Tourism Revenues Soar to New Record

Gyeongbok Palace in downtown Seoul is packed with tourists on Friday. Gyeongbok Palace in downtown Seoul is packed with tourists on Friday.

Tourism revenues totaled a record US$1.62 billion in July the most since the Bank of Korea began tallying them in 1980.

The previous record was $1.46 billion a month earlier. July's revenues mark a 34 percent increase from the same month in 2013.

The main reason for the growth is the surge in Chinese tourists. According to the Korea Tourism Organization on Friday, 692,053 Chinese tourists visited Korea in July, up 21 percent compared to the previous month.

Chinese tourists accounted for 51 percent of the 1.35 million people who visited Korea in July, the first time they made up more than half.

Chinese visitors also spend more than those from other countries to Korea. Each Chinese tourist spent around $2,272 on average in 2013, compared to the overall average of $1,684.

They now account for 16.5 percent of total sales in the first half of this year at Lotte Department Store's main branch in Sogong-dong, Seoul, compared to just 10 percent last year.

Korean tourists also spent a record $1.82 billion overseas in July and as a result the tourism account balance was at a $200 million deficit, but that was lower than the average $300 million monthly deficit last year.

englishnews@chosun.com / Sep. 01, 2014 10:51 KST