Inbound tourism to South Korea reached its highest level in 2013, according to data released by the Ministry of Justice on Monday, despite a weakening yen and a new Chinese law raising travel costs.
More than 12 million foreigners came to South Korea, with those from China and Japan topping the list. Chinese tourists outnumbered their Japanese counterparts for the first time, increasing by 44 percent from 2012 to 3.92 million. The number of Japanese travelers decreased by 22 percent to 2.71 million.
Justice Ministry officials picked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s expansionary monetary policy as a key source of the declining number of Japanese tourists. Abe has been flooding money into Japan’s economy at record pace to boost the domestic economy, lowering the yen’s value.
The rise in the number of Chinese visitors came in spite of fears that vacation costs would rise due to a new Chinese tourism bill prohibiting travel agencies from setting prices at what authorities claimed were “dumping” rates. The legislation went into effect in October 2013.