It has been found that the number of inbound tourists from nine Southeast Asian countries – Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and Myanmar – increased from 2,007,605 to 3,057,180 between 2015 and last year. For reference, a total of 3,116,505 Chinese tourists visited South Korea last year.
In 2017, 907,065 Taiwanese tourists headed to South Korea, up 79.9% from a year ago. The numbers were 426,801 and 39.5% for Thailand, 220,771 and 59.7% for the Philippines, and 220,675 and 141.3% for Vietnam.
Thanks to the increase in the number of tourists from Southeast Asia, the number of inbound tourists to South Korea increased from 10.14 million to 10.42 million between 2016 and 2017 in spite of a rapid decline in the number of those from China, which rose from 4.71 million to 6.95 million between 2015 and 2016 but dropped to 3.12 million last year due to THAAD conflicts.
These days, the number of inbound tourists from the Southeast Asian countries is increasing based on their solid economic growth and the Korean Wave in those countries. According to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Southeast Asian tourists are very interested in destinations closely related to Hallyu, such as Chuncheon and Namiseom, as well as well-known destinations like Myeongdong and the Dongdaemun Market whereas Chinese tourists prefer Lotte World, Everland, and the like. In addition, the ratio of individual tourists is higher than in the case of Chinese. As of 2016, for example, 63.6% and 83% of Thai and Malaysian tourists who visited South Korea were individual tourists.