The number of foreign tourists visiting South Korea dropped 11.2 percent in March compared to a year ago largely due to a sharp decline in the number of Chinese visitors amid ongoing diplomatic tension following Seoul’s decision to host United States’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, data showed Monday.
According to Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), the number of inbound travelers stood at 1,233,640 in March, down 11.2 percent from the same period a year ago. The decline was led by a significant drop in the number of Chinese tourists that slid 40 percent to 360,782 over the cited period. Since mid-last month, the Chinese government has imposed a de facto travel ban on Chinese tour groups going to Korea as part of an economic retaliation against Seoul’s decision to deploy Washington’s anti-missile system.
The number of inbound tourists from other regions including Japan, Taiwan and Southeast Asia increased.
A total of 274,478 Japanese tourists visited Korea in March - up 22.4 percent from a year ago. The surge was attributed to an overall high travel demand during the holiday and graduation season, KTO said.
The number of inbound tourists from Taiwan also jumped 28.8 percent to 74,512 over the same period on increased group tours to the country. The number of travelers from Thailand coming to Korea rose 12.5 percent on-year in March, while those from Indonesia 12.5 percent, Malaysia 7.5 percent, and Singapore 19 percent.
Meanwhile, a total of 1,940,542 Koreans travelled overseas in March, up 23.7 percent from the same period a year ago.
By Shin Ik-su
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]