South Korea's deficit in the tourism sector hit a record high level due largely to a drop in Chinese visitors following a diplomatic row between Seoul and Beijing over a U.S. missile defense system here and a rise in outbound travelers for the winter vacation.
According to the data about an estimated balance of payment in January 2018 from the Bank of Korea on March 6, the country’s deficit in the service sector recorded at US$4.48 billion (4.79 trillion won) in January. It reached a new record high in just one month after US$3.77 billion (4.03 trillion won) in December last year.
This is largely due to the country’s tourism balance – the number of outbound travelers compared to the number of visitors to South Korea – hit a record high in January. The deficit reached US$2.16 billion (2.31 trillion won) that month, as visitors to South Korea spent US$1.09 billion (1.16 trillion won) compared to the US$3.24 billion (3.46 trillion won) that South Korean tourists spent overseas.
Nearly 2.87 million South Koreans travelled abroad in January, an increase of 22.4 percent from the previous year, for the winter vacation. On the other hand, the number of visitors to South Korea fell 21.7 percent. In particular, the number of Chinese visitors to South Korea plunged a whopping 40.6 percent to 305,000.
South Korea’s goods balance slightly grew to US$8.11 billion (8.67 trillion won) from US$7.73 billion (8.26 trillion won) a year earlier. With a recovery in world trade and boom in the memory chip market, the country’s exports increased to US$52.07 billion (55.66 trillion won) for 15 months in a row. As goods balance showed a gain, South Korea’s total trade surplus in January stood at US$2.68 billion (2.87 trillion won). Accordingly, the country continued to run a trade surplus for the 71st consecutive month. The surplus, however, reached the lowest in four years after US$1.87 billion (2 trillion won) in January 2014.