Hot spot: The number of Chinese tourists to South Korea has risen dramatically, thanks to the increasing popularity of Korean dramas, goods, beauty products and K-pop. -AFP Relaxnews
K-Pop and all things Korean have led to a record number of Chinese tourists flocking to South Korea.
GROWING interest in Korean culture and relaxed visa restrictions helped drive millions of Chinese tourists to South Korea, who now outnumber Japanese visitors to the country.
English-language daily newspaper the Cho Sun Ilbo reports that 3.92 million Chinese visitors descended on South Korea last year, up a whopping 44% from 2012.
That number is expected to spike to four million this year.
That figure is all the more impressive considering that as recently as 2004, South Korea received just 470,000 Chinese tourists, compared to 2.42 million Japanese visitors.
But over the years, the rise of affluent Chinese consumers and the country’s unstoppable economic growth have driven more tour groups and travellers to their Asian neighbour.
Interest in the country as a tourist destination has also grown with the increasing popularity of Korean dramas, goods, beauty products and the influence of K-pop.
While the number of Chinese tourists has experienced explosive growth, Japanese visitors are on the decline, dropping 22% last year, from 3.49 million visitors in 2012 to 2.71 million last year.
According to the Cho Sun Ilbo, a visa-free policy for transit tourists, more multiple and electronic visas as well as simplified visa issuance overseas are credited for driving up the numbers among Chinese visitors, while the weakening yen and an economic slump are to blame for the declining number of Japanese visits. — AFP Relaxnews