SEOUL- Travellers have probably been stimulated by the rhythm of Gangnam dance from Korean pop singer Psy. It is not to deny that more people than ever are visiting Seoul, the cradle of Gangnam, especially from the Asian continent.
The result can already been translated in numbers: total arrivals from foreign tourists visiting Korea are likely to surpass 11.1 million in 2012, the culture ministry said Monday, due mainly to the growing influx of Chinese and Japanese tourists. The figure represents a 13.4 percent increase from 2011. Still, it falls a bit short of South Korea's initial goal of attracting 11.3 million foreign tourists this year.
South Korea achieved a landmark in tourism in November by attracting 10.3 million visitors. It was the first time that the number of foreign tourists topped 10 million in a year. On Monday, the 11.1 millionth person was expected to visit Korea, according to South Korea Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
The development comes as the number of Chinese and Japanese tourists visiting South Korea has shot up in recent years. The total number of Chinese tourists is expected to reach 2.83 million in 2012, up 24.7 percent from a year earlier. Meanwhile, the number of Japanese tourists is expected to increase 6.7 percent on-year to 3.51 million, according to the ministry.
Foreign tourists' spending in South Korea increased 13.7 percent in 2012 to US$14.1 billion, though South Korea could post a trade deficit in tourism as outbound visitors outnumbered inbound ones, according to the ministry.
Korea's outbound visitors spent $12.9 billion while foreign visitors spent $12 billion in Korea as of October, the latest month for which data is available, according to the ministry.
The country's tourism deficit is likely to reach $1.5 billion in 2012, down from 3.1 billion from a year earlier, the ministry said.