Foreign tourists to Seoul top 10 million last year
The number of foreign visitors to Seoul surpassed the 10 million mark for the first time last year thanks to a jump in the number of Chinese tourists, data showed Thursday.
Of the 12.17 million foreign tourists who entered South Korea last year, about 10.04 million foreigners are believed to have visited the country’s capital city, according to the data by the Seoul Institute.
The number of Chinese tourists jumped 53 percent on-year to 3.56 million last year, while that of Japanese visitors tumbled 22 percent to 2.26 million.
The average amount spent by a foreign tourist was estimated at 1.41 million won (US$1,312) in the capital last year, nearly a two-fold increase from 738,000 won in 2007.
During their Seoul trips, the foreigners stayed 5.4 days on average, up from 4.8 days in 2008, spending nights mostly at less expensive lodging facilities such as business hotels, inns, guest houses, youth hostels rather than luxury hotels, according to the data.
Over the past seven years, the rate of foreigners visiting traditionally popular spots such as Namdaemun and Dongdaemun markets in the central part of Seoul fell by 10 percent each, while areas near Hongik University in western Seoul and Bukchon, Samcheong-dong and Cheongwadae near the downtown area, as well as upscale shopping streets in Apgujeong and Sinsa in southern Seoul, emerged as new favorite tourist destinations.
The foreigners cited language barrier, traffic congestion and aggressive sales tactics as top problems of Seoul tourism that need to be changed as early as possible.
“We need to make it a city that foreigners want to visit again by working out measures to combat unkindness and prices that foreigners feel are increasing,” said Geum Ki-yong, a fellow researcher of the institute.