No. of non-Chinese tourists grows in Korea amid THAAD fallout

By Yonhap
  • Published : Sept 19, 2017 - 13:18
  • Updated : Sept 19, 2017 - 14:24
The number of foreigners other than Chinese visiting South Korea grew in the first seven months of this year following the government's efforts to diversify its tourist portfolio in the face of a sharp drop in the number of Chinese visitors, the country's tourism promotion agency said Tuesday.

According to the Korea Tourism Organization, the number of visitors from Vietnam, Kazakhstan and Iran grew 29.2 percent, 26.8 percent and 25.6 percent on-year, respectively, in the January-July period. 

"Though the inbound tourism has been shrinking due to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense dispute and North Korea's nuke issues, we have been putting constant efforts to vitalize local tourism and to attract visitors from countries other than China," said KTO President Jung Chang-soo during a press conference held in Seoul.
A group of foreign tourists wearing traditional Korean costumes wait in line to take photos with palace guards in front of the main gate of Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul on Aug. 17, 2017. (Yonhap)

The local tourism industry has been ramping up efforts to attract more tourists from Middle East and Southeast Asia, following Beijing's apparent retaliation against Seoul's deployment of the THAAD system. Since mid-March, the Chinese government banned its tour agencies from selling package tours bound to South Korea.

In July, the number of Chinese visitors plunged nearly 70 percent, marking a drop for five straight months. Chinese nationals accounted for nearly half of some 17 million foreigners visiting the country last year.

The KTO said it will continue focusing on securing tourists from countries other than China. It has planned a series of festivals for non-Chinese travelers this year, including Halal Restaurant Week Korea, which runs for two months through the end of next month.

The tourism agency also plans to boost cooperation with regional governments to promote domestic travels for locals.

During the January-July period, 15 million South Koreans went abroad for vacation, twice the tally for inbound travelers, which stood at 7.76 million, according to the KTO. (Yonhap)