Tourist From China Expected to Grow
kpride, April 3, 2015, 9:53 a.m.
Ever-increasing numbers of Chinese tourists are producing a boom for the Korean airline and travel industries, and the trend is likely to continue. According to immigration figures, 12.68 million foreign nationals entered Korea in 2014, not counting flight crew, up 2 million from the previous year.
Chinese nationals accounted for nearly half at 44.7 percent or 5.66 million, followed by 2.25 million Japanese or 17.8 percent, and 800,000 U.S. citizens or 6.3 percent. Taiwanese were next with 670,000 or 5.3 percent. The number of Chinese entering Korea tripled from 1.72 million in 2010.
The aviation and tourism industries expect that the number of Chinese visitors to Korea will exceed 10 million by 2018, though others say the phenomenon is temporary and driven by a passing fad for Korean pop music and TV soaps in China.
Official Chinese figures show that 109 million Chinese travelled abroad last year, surpassing 100 million for the first time. They spent US$164.8 billion, up 28 percent from the previous year.
This trend is directly related to growing income. China's per-capita GDP rose from $2,070 in 2006 to $7,570 in 2014. With improved quality of life, more and more Chinese people embrace overseas travel.
Seventy percent of the Chinese who traveled abroad last year went to nearby Hong Kong and Macau, but the massive influx of mainland Chinese lead to anti-Chinese protests in the streets there.
Kim Yoon-jin, an analyst at Daishin Securities, predicts that more Chinese will instead travel to Korea and Japan.