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Hallyu and shopping has tourists spending in Seoul

A survey showed that the average tourist spends roughly $2,000 in Seoul over five days, with hallyu quickly becoming the No. 1 reason to visit, capital officials said Thursday.

According Seoul Metropolitan Government, 90 percent of the tourists surveyed chose to visit Seoul during their stay, with 83.9 percent doing so for leisure.

More tourists are choosing Korea because of hallyu, hoping to visit popular locations featured in dramas while others cited K-pop. According to the survey, 40.6 percent cited hallyu and K-pop as their reason for visiting Korea, compared to 14.7 percent from 2010.

The capital surveyed 1,000 tourists from China, Japan, the U.S. and other countries departing at six major airports and ports between July 14 and Aug. 10 after their stay here.

The average length of stay in Korea was a little less than eight days with nearly five days spent in Seoul. However, the numbers varied by the home countries of the visitors. Chinese and Japanese spent on average three to four days in Seoul, while U.S. and European visitors stayed anywhere from seven to 10 days.

During their stay, tourists spent an average 2.4 million won ($2,000), but it varied between tour groups and individual travelers, with the latter spending nearly 700,000 won more. Expenditure of individual tourists shot up from last year by nearly 500,000 won. Chinese tourists were also found to spend 34 percent more during their stay than Japanese tourists.

Of those visiting Seoul, visiting tourist sites was most popular, followed closely by shopping, while other reasons included food and entertainment.

Items were nearly tied on the shopping list between clothes, beauty products and food.

According to officials at the Tourism Authority of Thailand, some choose to visit Korea simply to purchase beauty products, as the same products are notoriously expensive in Thailand.

Although communication issues was the biggest complaint, Seoul will have more chances to improve as nearly 80 percent surveyed said that they would visit again or recommend the city to friends.

The survey also comes ahead of Chinese Golden Week which is expected to draw 70,000 visitors starting Oct. 1, another reason Seoul is focusing on China as its target market.

The weeklong vacation starts with National Day, which celebrates the founding of the People’s Republic of China 62 years ago.

By Robert Lee (robert@heraldcorp.com)
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