Tourism booming in South Korea despite fears of recession


SEOUL – The South Korean economy is feared to be heading towards a recession as domestic demand slows.

In addition, the local currency fell by as much as 38 per cent in 2008, making it expensive for Koreans to import or to go overseas.

But tourism is booming in South Korea these days as foreigners flock to the country to enjoy the winter season.

Worries that business at ski resorts would be bad because of the financial crisis proved to be unfounded. An increasing number of tourists from Southeast Asia, China, Canada and even the US are heading for South Korean ski slopes.

Despite the economic slump, the country is expecting about US$8.6 billion in revenue from tourism.

Ski resorts and organisers of winter festivals are presently doing their utmost to attract visitors from at home and abroad.

An event was even organised in central Seoul to give people a taste of what to expect if they attend the Hwacheon Ice Fishing Festival.

The festival, which is held for about two weeks from January 10, sees about one million tourists flock to the county every winter.

Marysa, a German tourist visiting the festival promotional event, said: “I feel very, very good. It’s a very nice atmosphere here. It seems like it’s a festival and I think it’s very nice to see so much.”

The Korean government has declared 2010-2012 as “Visit Korea Years”. It is hoping to attract 10 million foreign tourists a year and earn about US$10 billion from tourism.