Chinese influx lifts Jeju’s growthThe southern resort island of Jeju showed the highest rate of growth in productivity in the service sector and retail sales last year.
Jeju’s service sector productivity rose 6.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared to the same quarter the previous year, according to a Statistics Korea report released Thursday. The growth rate is two times higher than the national average rate of 3.1 percent and nearly three times more than Seoul’s 2.3 percent.
Statistics Korea said productivity growth rates were high in areas such as Jeju, South Chungcheong and Gangwon, as more financial and social welfare businesses moved in to the areas. Gyeonggi and Seoul also saw increases of around 2 percent, but their rates were relatively small as the number of related businesses decreased last year.
The nation’s retail sales also rose in the fourth quarter of 2015 from the same quarter of the previous year.
Retail sales increased most in Jeju at 10.8 percent, which is nearly two times higher than the national average of 5.7 percent, while Gyeonggi and South Chungcheong each scored 6.7 percent to tie in second place. In these places, sales at large discount stores and car dealers rose significantly, according to Statistics Korea.
Sales in large discount stores accounted for 20.8 percent of total retail sales in the fourth quarter of 2015 in Jeju.
Industry experts believe Jeju is over-performing in both productivity and sales growth rates as more Chinese tourists are visiting the island.
For example, real estate and leasing services accounted for 25 percent of total productivity growth in Jeju. Currently, many Chinese are interested in investing in the island’s real estate. Jeju, the warmest place in Korea, was also able to attract more local and foreign tourists in the fourth quarter.
Additionally, the popular trend of urbanites heading back to suburban areas like Jeju has also helped bolster the island’s economy. Net migration, the difference between immigrants and emigrants, reached 14,257 last year. In 2014, it was at around 11,112.
In all 16 major cities and provinces, both service sector productivity and retail sales increased in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Meanwhile, the service sector productivity growth rate nationwide last year is expected to reach 2.9 percent from the previous year. In 2014, the growth rate was 2.2 percent. The nation’s retail sales growth rate is projected at 3.4 percent, double the 1.7 percent in 2014.
BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [email@example.com]