The number of South Korean outbound travelers topped 24 million, nearly doubling foreigners coming to Korea this year, as many Koreans chose to spend their holidays abroad while Chinese visitors plunged amid a row over a U.S. anti-missile system installment.
Data released by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) on Sunday showed that 24.1 million Koreans traveled abroad during January-November this year, jumping 18.2 percent from the same period a year ago. It is the first time for the figure to exceed a 24 million mark on a yearly basis.
In contrast, the number of foreign visitors plummeted 23.3 percent to 12.2 million in the cited period largely due to a sharp drop in the number of Chinese tourists that dipped 49.1 percent on year to 3.8 million. Beijing had banned group tours of its people to the neighboring country in protest to Seoul’s U.S. antimissile system deployment.
As the number of outbound travelers nearly doubled that of inbound travelers, the nation’s tourism deficit reached a record high of $11.1 billion in the January-October period, up a whopping 112.7 percent from the same period last year.
By Shin Ik-su and Cho Jeehyun
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]