The Korea Herald


More than 10 million visit Korea by October

By Lee Woo-young

Published : Nov. 26, 2013 - 20:13

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The number of foreign tourists to Korea reached the 10 million mark as of the end of October, a month earlier than last year, despite the continued fall in the number of Japanese tourists and the slow down in the increase of Chinese tourists in October.

According to the monthly tourist figures for October, about 10.34 million foreign tourists visited Korea in the first 10 months of the year, a 9.3 percent increase from the same period last year.

In 2012, the number of foreign tourists surpassed 10 million at the end of November for the first time, closing the year with a record 11,140,000 foreign tourists. The Korea Tourism Organization set a goal of attracting a total of 12.5 million for 2013.

The slowdown in the influx of Chinese tourists, however, and a year-long slump in Japanese tourist arrivals suggest that the KTO will fall short of reaching the goal set in October 2012 when it saw a rising tide of Chinese and Japanese tourists.

“As the slump in Japanese tourist numbers continues, and with the implementation of the new Chinese travel law, we will fall short of reaching the goal (of 12.5 million),” said Kim Sung-eun, deputy director of the R&D center of the KTO.

The number of Japanese travelers, who used to make up the largest group of foreign tourists to Korea, has been declining since the relationship between Seoul and Tokyo became strained over historical and territorial disputes in August 2012.

Since October last year, the number of Japanese tourists has been spiraling downward, with the growth rate standing at around minus 20 percent.

The increase in the number of Chinese tourists fell from a record high of 70 percent in the summer compared to the same period last year to 22.8 percent in October.

“The new Chinese travel law is a one reason and the other is that October is the beginning of the off-season for Chinese tourists. Usually after the national holiday in early October, the industry enters the off-season for Chinese tourists,” said Seo Young-choong, director of the China Team at the KTO.

“In a broader view, group tours have decreased since the new travel law came into effect, but individual travelers are on the rise. We expect the Chinese tourists will show a 30 percent increase in November,” Seo added.

By Lee Woo-young (