Missile row with China leads to S. Korea's record tourism deficit

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2018-02-21 10:46 Updated : 2018-02-21 10:46
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Chinese Tourists inquires a Seoul tour guide in Myeongdong, a famous tourist spot in Seoul. [Photograph by Yoo Dae-gil = dbeorlf123@ajunews.com]

SEOUL, Feb. 21 (Aju News) -- The deficit in South Korea's tourism industry soared 112 percent on-year to a record high of 13.75 billion US dollars last year, reflecting a travel ban imposed by China in retaliation for the deployment of an American missile shield, official data showed Wednesday.

In 2017, South Korea's tourism-related income fell 22.5 percent to $13.32 billion in 2017 while South Koreans spent $27.07 billion abroad, up 14.3 percent from a year earlier, according to the state-run Korea Tourism Organization (KTO).

KTO data showed that 13.33 million foreigners visited South Korea last year, down 22.7 percent from a year ago, and the number of South Korean travelers abroad rose 18.4 percent on-year to 26.49 million.

Last year, about 4.16 million Chinese visitors arrived in South Korea, down 48.3 percent from the previous year. Chinse tourists shunned South Korea due to a diplomatic row between Seoul and Beijing over a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. The two countries agreed to normalize relations under an agreement in October.

The Chinese accounted for 31.3 percent of total foreigners who visited South Korea last year. The number of Japanese tourists rose 0.6 percent to 2.3 million, or 17.3 percent of total foreign visitors. In 2017, South Korea received 925,616 visitors from Taiwan, up 11.1 percent.