Foreign Tourists Spend Less in Korea

  • By Lee Sung-hoon

    June 19, 2019 09:35

    Per-capita spending by foreign tourists in Korea has steadily declined to levels last seen a decade ago.

    According to the Korea Tourism Organization on Tuesday, per-capita spending by foreign tourists in the first quarter this year amounted to US$1,268 for an average stay of 6.9 days. That is the smallest amount since 2010 when it stood at $1,224.

    One reason was a decline in Chinese tourists while a boycott on group tours is only gradually being lifted. While Japanese tourists spent the least with only $773, Chinese could be relied on to spend $1,735 on average.

    But the decline cannot be blamed solely on dwindling Chinese tourist numbers. Tourists from Japan, the U.S. and Hong Kong also spent between three and seven percent less than last year.

    The main reason appears to be soaring consumer prices in Korea. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Seoul is now the seventh-most-expensive city in the world, the same as Copenhagen and New York in terms of products and services.

    An increase in the proportion of returning tourists is also a contributing factor. The proportion of tourists who had been to Korea more than twice before rose four percent from last year to 59.2 percent. A travel agent said, "That just shows there's a lack of variety in products sold here that could make repeat visitors buy more things."

    Another factor is the rising number of foreign tourists who go sightseeing on their own rather than in large groups, which are often herded into shopping malls.

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