Korea Expects 17 Million Visitors This Year

  • By Chae Sung-jin, Kim Choong-ryung

    November 22, 2016 10:52

    A record 17 million foreigners are expected to visit Korea by the end of this year. According to the Korea Tourism Organization on Monday, the number of foreign visitors has reached 15 million so far this year, breaking the record of 14.2 million for the whole of 2014.

    The number of Chinese tourists surged thanks to the lasting popularity of Korean pop culture and cosmetics in China. So did numbers of visitors from Japan and Southeast Asia.

    Some 1.89 million Japanese visited Korea between January and October, almost back to the 1.93 million recorded in 2014.

    Tourists in hanbok or traditional Korean dress shop accessories in Namdaemun Market in Seoul on Oct. 20. /Newsis

    More people are also coming from fast-growing economies in Southeast Asia like Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, but they still make up just 12 percent of all visitors, compared to 48 percent for Chinese. Some 240,000 Indonesians visited Korea during the period, up 53 percent on-year, while travelers from Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam increased 30 to 50 percent.

    Kim Sang-tae of the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute said, "Southeast Asia is a solid tourism market with a new crop of young women attracted to Korean pop culture."

    An executive with the Lotte World amusement park said Southeast Asian visitors increased about 20 to 30 percent this year. Lotte hired boy band EXO to promote the amusement park among foreign travelers. "We expect the number of Southeast Asian visitors to exceed 2 million mark for the first time this year," said Chung Ki-jeong of the KTO.

    Meanwhile, Japan welcomed more than 20 million visitors from January to October and expects a total of 24 million this year.

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