February 13, 2017 10:08
The number of tourists from Muslim countries is expected to exceed the 1 million mark for the first time this year.
Industry insiders hope they can take up some of the slack left by dwindling visitor numbers from China.
Some 980,000 Muslim tourists visited Korea last year, up more than 30 percent from the previous year, the Korea Tourism Organization said on Sunday. It has set this year's target at 1.1 million.
Seventy-five percent came from Indonesia and Malaysia and the rest from the Middle East. A KTO official said many are especially drawn by Korea's winter landscapes.
Muslim tourists have increased in the double digits since 2012, but the infrastructure for them is poor and urgently needs revamping.
There are only about 10 halal restaurants and only about 20 Muslim prayer rooms across the country, so Muslim visitors tend to limit themselves to a handful of attractions like Itaewon in Seoul and Nami Island in scenic Gangwon Province.
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