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Travel & tourism economic impact in South Korea 2011-2028

The total contribution of travel and tourism to South Korea’s GDP amounted to around 81 trillion South Korean won in 2017. This number includes direct, indirect, as well as induced contributions. The value decreased in 2017 due to the decrease in visitor arrivals that year.

Importance of tourists from Mainland China

After a peak in 2016, the number of visitors from Mainland China to South Korea plunged the following year, due to political tension between the two countries. The tensions led to Beijing ordering travel companies to stop selling group tours to South Korea. Since Chinese tourists made up for almost half of all visitor arrivals to South Korea, this had a notable impact on the otherwise steadily growing tourism industry. The number of visitors from Mainland China started to grow again in 2018.

Hallyu boosts the industry

Hallyu, also known as the “Korean wave” is a common term referring to the South Korean popular culture, including music, TV shows, and movies. With South Korean popular culture gaining popularity around the globe, the number of visitors to the countries grows as well. For example, after the TV drama Winter Sonata gained popularity overseas in 2002, the number of foreign visitors to its rural filming location Nami Island started to grow. The drama is widely considered to be the start of Hallyu throughout worldwide. Another example is the Korean pop boy band BTS, which is currently considered as the biggest boy band in the world. In 2018, the Seoul Metropolitan Government gave credit to the band for boosting the tourism industry.

Total contribution of travel and tourism to GDP in South Korea from 2011 to 2028

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Release date

March 2018


South Korea

Survey time period

2011 to 2017

Special properties

In nominal prices, including direct, indirect and induced contributions

Supplementary notes

* Estimate.
** Forecast.

Note: 1,000 South Korean won equal 0.93 U.S. dollars and 0.76 euros (as of April 2018).

The figures have not been adjusted to inflation rates. Figures have been rounded.

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