Chinese tourists flock to South Korea in record numbers

Thursday, January 16th, 2014. Filed under: Asian News Destinations
A nocturnal view of the Seoul skyline 3.92 million Chinese visitors descended on South Korea in 2012, up a whopping 44 percent from 2012. ©SeanPavonePhoto/shutterstock.com

A nocturnal view of the Seoul skyline
3.92 million Chinese visitors descended on South Korea in 2012, up a whopping 44 percent from 2012.
©SeanPavonePhoto/shutterstock.com

(Relaxnews) – Growing interest in Korean culture and relaxed visa restrictions helped drive millions of Chinese tourists to South Korea, who outnumbered Japanese visitors to the country for the first time last year.

English-language daily newspaper the Cho Sun Ilbo reports that 3.92 million Chinese visitors descended on South Korea in 2013, up a whopping 44 percent from 2012.

That number is expected to spike to 4 million this year.

That figure is all the more impressive considering that as recently as 2004, Korea received just 470,000 Chinese tourists, compared to 2.42 million Japanese visitors.

But over the years, the rise of affluent Chinese consumers and the country’s unstoppable economic growth have driven more tour groups and travelers to their Asian neighbor.

Interest in the country as a tourist destination has also grown with the increasing popularity of Korean dramas, goods, beauty products and the influence of K-pop.

While the number of Chinese tourists has experienced explosive growth, Japanese visitors are on the decline, dropping 22 percent in 2013, from 3.49 million visitors in 2012 to 2.71 million in 2013.

According to the Cho Sun Ilbo, a visa-free policy for transit tourists, more multiple and electronic visas as well as simplified visa issuance overseas are credited for driving up the numbers among Chinese visitors, while the weakening yen and an economic slump are to blame for the declining number of Japanese visits.

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