Chinese travellers to Korea rose 37.6% year-on-year

The numbers from the Korea Tourism Organization show that Chinese visitors represented 31.1% of all arrivals to South Korea in October, with more than 475,000 entering the country. Overall Chinese visits were up 12.2% in the first ten months of the year, following a slow start due to the THAAD row.

However, arrivals from China are still far short of pre-THAAD numbers. In October 2016, almost 681,000 Chinese visitors entered South Korea, 42.9% of the total.

While Korean duty-free retailers will be buoyed by the latest increases, prospects for 2019 are uncertain. Beijing’s new e-commerce law, due to come into force on January 1, 2019, threatens to weaken severely the daigou or personal-shopping industry that accounts for a large number of Chinese visits to South Korea.

Japanese visits leapt 61.7% year-on-year in October to over 290,000. Japan is the second-biggest generator of visitors to South Korea and accounted for 19% of arrivals in the month, up from 15.4% in October 2017.

Asia Pacific visitors continue to represent the vast majority of arrivals to South Korea, with 1,250,000 visits from the region comprising 81.8% of the total in October 2018.

Departures by Koreans rose 5.2% year-on-year in October to 2,347,876. For the first ten months they increased by 9.3% to over 23 million.