A new government report shows a record number of Chinese visitors came
to Korea last year.
In response, Korean firms are adapting their business strategies to
capitalize on this surging market.
Our Sohn Jung-in reports. Korea welcomed some 11 million international
travelers last year with recent data showing visitors from China accounted
more than one-third of that tally.
According to Korea’s Ministry of Justice, the number of Chinese nationals
who visited Korea in 2013 reached a record high of three-point-nine-million.
That’s a dramatic jump of nearly 44 percent in annual visitors compared to
a year earlier.
The ministry attributed the sharp increase in part to streamlined
procedures in issuing visas, as well as visa-free entry programs for Chinese
passengers on cruise ships and airport transfers.
It’s a trend that has been gaining significant momentum over the last
Visitor numbers from China in 2004 barely scratched half-a-million, but that
figure has grown more than eight-times higher since the end of last year
and is forecast to surpass four-million by next year.
Meanwhile, the weaker yen has hurt the number of Japanese visitors to
Korea, one of the country’s main sources of tourism income.
Korea suffered more than a 22 percent decline in travelers from Japan in
2013 on-year, with that number expected to continue falling.
The changing landscape of Korea’s tourism industry is catching the eye of
local businesses here.
Restaurants in the Myeongdong Shopping District, a popular spot for
international tourists, have begun adjusting their menus to cater to more
Japanese favorites such as stews and raw beef cuisines have now been
replaced with more grilled meat dishes.
The wave of new Chinese visitors is also being attributed to the popularity
of Korean-made products.
Among the most popular items that people take back to China include
Korean cosmetics, ginseng supplements and rice cookers.
Experts say more local firms across various industries will be switching
gears to catch this rising momentum of Chinese tourist to Korea.
Sohn Jung-in, Arirang News.