September 06, 2017 12:44
The government has declared Oct. 2 a one-off holiday this year, which creates a record 10-day Chuseok break lasting from Sept. 30 to Oct. 9.
The aim is to boost domestic consumption, but it remains to be seen whether that will happen as record numbers plan to spend their money on trips abroad instead.
The number of Koreans traveling abroad in October is expected to rise 30 percent compared to the same period of last year. On the other hand fewer Chinese tourists are expected to visit Korea during China's National Day holidays, also in early October.
In the last three years, some 160,000 to 200,000 Chinese tourists visited Korea during the period, but numbers have dwindled amid an unofficial Chinese boycott.
Korea's tourism deficit is snowballing. According to the Bank of Korea on Tuesday, the tourism deficit stood at US$1.79 billion in July, surpassing the previous record of a $1.65 billion set in July of 2008.
That is due to record numbers traveling abroad in July (389,000), while the number of foreigners visiting Korea fell 40.8 percent over the same period to just over 1 million. The number of Chinese visitors tanked 69.3 percent to 281,000.
The North Korean nuclear crisis is also impacting the tourism industry here. As Seoul-Tokyo relations began to thaw this year, more Japanese visitors came, but since April, when the North Korean nuclear and missile crisis escalated, numbers have been falling again to below 150,000 a month.
The Korea Tourism Organization projects the number of visitors this year at 1.26 million, down 27 percent compared to last year, which saw a record high. But the number of Koreans traveling abroad surpassed the 20-million mark for the first time last year and is expected to reach 26.6 million this year.
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