According to data from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), the number of foreign tourists visiting Korea surpassed 10 million in 2012. That happened 30 years after the figure exceeded one million for the first time in history in 1978, recording 1.08 million.
In particular, the number of tourists has seen double-digit growth since 2009 except last year of 9.3 percent. Its figure this year is expected to increase by more than 16 percent compared to last year. It is the biggest increase since 2004 when recorded 22.4 percent.
The figure has increased due to the number of tourists from China.
According to the KTO, the number of Chinese tourists to Korea is expected to reach 6.12 million by the end of the year, accounting for 43 percent of the total foreign arrivals in Korea. China is the only country from which more than 6 million tourists from one country visit Korea a year.
In particular, 6 million Chinese visitors spent approximately US$9.6 billion (10.54 trillion won) this year, accounting for 55 percent of its total tourism income of US$17.6 billion (19.32 trillion won).
The KTO is estimating that its effect on the economic output of Korea this year amounts to 17.4 trillion won (US$15.85 billion)
Thus, with more and more Chinese tourists visiting Korea, the deficit range in tourism profits this year is expected to be US$2.2 billion (2.42 trillion won), the lowest since 2009 of US$1.27 billion (1.39 trillion won).
However, concerns have been growing about the Korea tourism industry’s increasing dependence on the Chinese market, the weak yen and the weak yuan. These factors are expected to put a strain on the government, which has a target of attracting 20 million foreign tourists a year by 2017.