Tourist spend is at levels not seen in a decade

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Tourist spend is at levels not seen in a decade

Average spending by foreign tourists visiting Korea has decreased to a level last seen 10 years ago, data showed Tuesday.

According to the data from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organization, foreign tourists coming to Korea spent an average of $1,268 per person per trip in the first quarter of this year.

The figure is down 12.1 percent from $1,442 a year ago and marks the fourth quarterly decrease in a row.

Average spending hovered around $1,200 in the mid-2000s but rose to $1,298 in 2010 and subsequently grew steadily every year to peak at $1,713 in 2015.

However, diplomatic tension with China over Seoul’s deployment of a key U.S. defense system - the terminal high altitude area defense antimissile system - slashed the tourist spending figure to $1,625 in 2016 as Chinese tourists shied away from Korea.

Since that year, the number has steadily been on a downturn, taking it back to its 2009 level this year. Foreign tourists’ average spending in Korea started to rise around 2010 after stagnant growth of the mid-2000s when figures remained roughly at $1,200.

The data also showed that Chinese tourists were the national group who spent the most in Korea in the first quarter, with an average of $1,735 in expenditure, followed by Taiwanese with $1,131 and Americans with $1,103. Every country group had spent less in Korea this year than 2018.

The average duration of stay by foreign tourists came to 6.9 days in the first quarter, down slightly from seven days a year earlier.The level of satisfaction shown by foreign tourists who visited Korea came to 93.9 percent, up from 93.7 percent a year ago.

BY YONHAP, SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson.joongang.co.kr]

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