The number of foreigners visiting South Korea fell for the fourth straight month in June amid China’s group travel ban and increased geopolitical tensions on the Korean peninsula following North Korea’s military provocations.
According to data from the Korea Tourism Organization on Tuesday, the number of foreign tourists to South Korea in June dropped 36.2 percent from a year earlier to 991,802.
The slowdown in Korea`s tourism industry coincides with a steep fall in the number of Chinese visitors, the country’s biggest source of international visitors. In March, Chinese authorities ordered its local travel agencies to stop selling package trips to Korea in retaliation for Seoul’s deployment of a controversial U.S. missile defense system, which China sees as destabilizing regional security. Since then, the number of Chinese visitors to the country has gone into a visible downward spiral. Last month, the number of Chinese visitors plunged 66.4 percent to 254,930 year over year.
Spooked by a series of North Korean missile tests, Japanese tourists have also shunned their visits to South Korea over the past three months, with the number of Japanese visiting the country in June down by 6.9 percent from the year-ago period.
Tourism from Southeast Asia, with the exception of Malaysia and Vietnam, all took a hit as well. Fewer American and European tourists visited the country over the same period.
In contrast, more Koreans travelled abroad. The number of outbound nationals in June was 2,098,126, up 18 percent on year. The figure in the first six months totaled 12.63 million, an 18.7 percent gain from the same period last year.
By Shin Ik-su
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]