Foreign visitors spent $2.9 billion in Korea in Q3
Foreign tourists' spending in Korea up 37 percent
Spending by foreign travelers went up at a brisk pace in the third quarter, helping power Korea’s gross domestic product growth, data showed Tuesday.
According to the Bank of Korea, foreign nationals spent 3.4 trillion won ($2.9 billion) in the third quarter of this year, up 37.4 percent from the second quarter.
Thanks to the increase in expenditure by foreign travelers, their GDP contribution ratio rose to 0.3 percent in the July-September period, up from almost zero in the previous quarter.
In the first and second quarters, foreign travelers did not have any significant impact on GDP growth, but their role stood out in the third quarter.
The galloping spending by foreign tourists is largely fueled by the sharp decrease of the Korean won’s value against major currencies. Chinese and Japanese tourists are now flocking to Korea partly for bargain hunting at duty free shops and department stores.
In the third quarter, the number of Chinese tourists soared 38 percent from the same period a year earlier, while the figure for Japanese tourists rose 22.1 percent.
Industry data suggest that the growth momentum in tourism will continue in the fourth quarter, with Chinese tourists particularly favoring Korea as their holiday destination.
“China’s rapid economic growth in recent years has translated into bigger income levels, and Korea is benefiting from a growing number of Chinese tourists with disposable income to spend overseas,” said an official at the central bank.
China’s per capita GDP stood at $4,382 last year, but those at the high end of the income brackets in big cities earn more than $10,000 a year. The BOK estimates that there are 94 million affluent Chinese in 11 major cities, a demographic that is reflected in the sharp rise of Chinese tourists headed for Korea this year.
The BOK said Korea has greater opportunities in expanding its tourism industry as only 3 percent of Chinese travelers visit Korea and the proportion of GDP contribution by foreign visitors remains at a low level here.