South Koreans showed the fifth biggest overseas spending among 32 developed economies, which explains the nation’s ever-worsening travel deficit account.
According to a study released by Korea Economic Research Institute (KERI) on Tuesday, Korea ranked fifth out of the 32 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in overseas consumption. As of 2016, the country posted -1.9 percent in net overseas consumption - foreigners’ spending in Korea minus Koreans’ spending overseas - as a percentage of total household consumption.
Norway topped the list with the highest overseas spending of -4.3 percent, followed by Lithuania at -2.7 percent, Belgium at -2.5 percent and Germany at -2.3 percent. Twenty-two countries saw foreign visitors’ spending exceed their nationals’ spending overseas. Japan, which turned from a net outflow to inflow country in 2014, recorded 0.6 percent in its net overseas consumption percentage in 2016.
According to World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, which is published biennially, Korea’s price competitiveness dropped four notches over the past 10 years to 88th in 2017, ranking low in hotel and fuel prices and overall spending power.
Korea still has a long way to go in terms of building a robust tourist economy. Tourism in Korea accounted for 1.8 percent out of the country’s total gross domestic product in 2015, significantly lower than the OECD average of 4.2 percent and coming second-bottom of the 25 countries.
“Falling price competitiveness in a country with limited tourism resources would further exacerbate the tourism deficit,” said a KERI official. “It is time we formulate a long-term national strategy to bolster Korea’s tourism appeal.”
By Kim Yeon-joo and Kim Hyo-jin
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