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Seoul most favored by Asian tourists

Asian tourists have picked Seoul as their favorite destination for the third consecutive year, a recent survey found Wednesday.

The survey, commissioned by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, questioned 3,200 people in China, Japan and Thailand and 600 others visiting Seoul last year.

Of 1,050 Chinese surveyed, 16.4 percent picked Seoul as the city which they wanted to visit within a year, followed by Tokyo (11 percent) and Sydney (9.4 percent).

The largest number of 750 Japanese respondents, or 10.6 percent, selected Seoul as their favorite destination, along with Honolulu (10.2 percent) and Paris (5.4 percent).

Seoul also gained support from 19 percent of 400 Thais, while Tokyo and Maldives earned 16.8 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively.

The city explained that geographical closeness may have largely affected the decision of Chinese and Japanese tourists.

In the case of the Japanese who are considered to have better knowledge about Korea than their Asian peers, 65 percent of them cited greater accessibility to the city.

The city’s promotional activities were also found to be effective in attracting Chinese and Thai tourists.

Especially, 40.6 percent of the Thais said they picked Seoul because they had watched the city’s TV commercials shown in their local media.

Korean TV dramas, most of them filmed in Seoul, were another decisive reason why respondents wanted to visit the city soon, officials added.

Even without considering travel expenses, Japanese and Thais favored Seoul. In China, Seoul fell second next to Hong Kong.

Despite unpredictable situations such as the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus and North Korea’s shelling of the border island of Yeonpyeong, the number of visitors to Korea reached 8.8 million last year, a 12.7 percent increase from the previous year.

Of them, those who visited Seoul were 6.81 million in 2010, with Chinese and Thais making up 39.7 percent and 36.5 percent, respectively.

“The survey result reflects the achievements of the city’s overseas promotional efforts, with more than 30 billion won ($27 million) poured since 2008,” said Shin Myun-ho, assistant mayor for economic promotion.

Over the past three years, the city estimated that it has earned nearly 3 trillion won and created about 79,000 jobs in the tourism sector. 

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)
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