Number of foreign tourists to S. Korea skyrockets by 400% on-year in January and February

By Park Sae-jin Posted : April 6, 2023, 17:04 Updated : April 6, 2023, 17:04

[Yonhap Photo]

SEOUL -- Thanks to the reopening of borders and lifting of regulations on compulsory face masks in public places, the number of foreign travelers who visited South Korea in January and February 2023 has skyrocketed by about 400 percent compared to the same period last year, South Korea's state-operated tourism promotion agency said.
South Korea's tourism industry is one of the country's industries that was devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Shopping districts frequently visited by foreign tourists like Myeongdong and Dongdaemun in central Seoul became almost empty when there were hardly any visitors in 2020 and 2021. According to the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), some 17.5 million foreign travelers visited South Korea in 2019 and the number nosedived 94.4 percent to 967,000 in 2020.
Meanwhile, some domestic tourism sectors like the camping and leisure sectors thrived during the pandemic because mandatory mask regulations were not as tight in outdoor environments and people felt safer. It was also easy for families with young children to follow the government quarantine guidelines and avoid crowded places. KTO's data showed the domestic camping market stood at about 6.3 trillion won ($4.7 billion) in 2022, up 8.2 percent from 5.8 trillion won in 2020.
According to KTO's data, a total of 913,677 foreign travelers visited South Korea in January and February 2023, up 402.4 percent from the same period last year. The increase in the number of Japanese tourists was the greatest with 66,900 people in January, up 5657.3 percent from the same period a year ago.
The increase in the number of flights and visa-free entrance policy for Japanese tourists contributed to the sharp increase in their number. Also, some Japanese tourists were high school group travelers. Tourists from China also increased. 45,884 tourists came to South Korea in February, up 173.9 percent from the same period a year ago. South Korea and China restarted issuing visas for short-term visitors, allowing travelers from each country to cross borders more easily.  
기사 이미지 확대 보기