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Chinese tourists to S. Korea top 6 million in 2014

The number of Chinese travelers to South Korea surpassed the 6 million mark for the first time last year, maintaining its place as the nation's biggest tourist group, the state-run tourism agency said Friday.

A total of 6.12 million Chinese visited South Korea last year, up 41.6 percent from a year ago, the Korea Tourism Organization said.

The rising number of Chinese travelers also helped push up the total number of foreign visitors by 8.3 percent on-year to 16.08 million, the KTO said.

South Korea has not only seen an increasing number of Chinese tourists but also growth in their spending in recent years.

The average spending by Chinese travelers reached $2,272 in 2013, a 80 percent surge from $1,262 in 2008, according to the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade.

The comparable figures for 2014 were not available.

Chinese tourists spent a combined 7.6 trillion won ($7.02 billion) in 2013, accounting for about half of the total expenditures by foreign tourists, the institute said.

The individual spending of American tourists increased 7.3 percent to $1,470 in 2013 compared to five years ago, while the expenditures by Japanese travelers slipped 4.2 percent to $990 during the period, it said. (Yonhap)