More foreign tourists returned to Korea last year but spent less

2019.05.08 15:29:40 | 2019.05.08 15:37:57

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More foreign visitors returned to Korea and stayed longer last year but spent less compared to the previous year, survey showed.

According to a survey conducted by Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Korea Tourism Organization on 16,469 foreigners who visited Korea last year, 57.8 percent of the respondents said they were visiting the country for the second or more times. The figure is 4.5 percentage points higher from a year earlier.

Last year, total 15.35 million foreigners visited Korea, up 15.1 percent from 2017 when Beijing banned group tours to Korea in retaliation against Seoul’s deployment of U.S. missile defense system THAAD.

On average, foreign tourists stayed for 7.2 days, up from previous year’s 7.0 days.

Their top reason for visiting Korea was for leisure with 78.4 percent and 70.9 percent of the visitors were on individual tour.

Seoul was by far the most visited city/region in the country with 79.4 percent. Other destinations were Gyeonggi Province (14.9 percent), Busan (14.7 percent), Gangwon Province (9.7 percent), and Jeju Island (8.5 percent). Separately in the first quarter last year, 15.5 percent of the foreign visitors headed to Gangwon Province where Pyeongchang Winter Olympics was held in February.

Shopping was cited as their favorite activity in Korea (92.5 percent), followed by dining (71.3 percent) in the multiple-answer question.

They spent $1,342.4 per person during their visit, down $139.2 compared to a year earlier. When paying for purchases, the largest 53.0 percent was made in cash, followed by credit/debit card (44.5 percent) and smartphone app (2.5 percent).

More than nine out of ten foreign visitors were satisfied with their trip to Korea but the satisfaction rate stopped at 93.1 percent, down from previous year’s 94.8 percent. It was found that the satisfaction rate was lower among visitors from non-English speaking countries and Southeast Asia. Only 36.2 percent of tourists from India found their trip to Korea satisfying, German tourists 39.5 percent, Singaporeans 46.4 percent, and Malaysians 47.6 percent.

By Cha Chang-hee and Cho Jeehyun

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