South Korea's tourism industry - Statistics & Facts

Up until 1988, overseas travel was not liberalized in South Korea, which means that people who wanted to go abroad or foreigners who wanted to enter the country required special approval by the government. At the time, infrastructure, the culture of appreciating leisure activities and the wealth of local people were underdeveloped. For this reason, the South Korean tourism industry has been predominantly sustained by domestic travelers. In contrast to the past, the number of South Korean outbound travelers amounted to approximately 26.5 million in 2017.

Except for the period of economic recession from the late 1990s to the early 2000s, South Korea's balance of trade from tourism has been in deficit due to a lot of citizens traveling to other countries. It may gradually change in the future since there has been a growth of foreign tourist arrivals in South Korea. Some factors have enhanced South Korea's standing as a tourist destination among the international community. These include the Korean Wave and the host of a massive sports events such as the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Accordingly, the total contribution of travel and tourism to GDP of South Korea has been increasing.

The popularity of tourism calls for the development of the lodging industry in South Korea. Over the past few years, there has been an intensive demand for and consequent supply of hotel rooms, especially in touristic regions like Seoul and the capital area as well as Jeju island. Moreover, new types of accommodation services, Airbnb and Yanolja for example, have experienced rapid expansion. This can be illustrated in the fact that Yanolja managed to receive two of the largest single investments for South Korean startups in 2017.

South Korea has witnessed more and more tourists visiting for specific purposes. Admission to a casino is generally prohibited for South Korean nationals, but not for foreigners. Thus, hotels have competed to attract customers from abroad, combining resort facilities with accessibility to casinos. On the other hand, medical tourism has also been under the spotlight. As the country takes its position as home to beauty in Asia, relevant medical procedures and non-surgical treatments have been favored by service users.

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 22 most important statistics relating to "Travel and tourism industry in South Korea ".

Travel and tourism industry in South Korea

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Important key figures

The most important key figures provide you with a compact summary of the topic of "Travel and tourism industry in South Korea " and take you straight to the corresponding statistics.

Economic impact

Lodging industry

Emerging trends

Tourist perspectives


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