Tourism in South Korea

South Korea recorded a total of 15 million tourists in 2018, ranking 28th in the world in absolute terms.

Without including the size of a country, such a ranking list may not be very meaningful. By putting the tourist numbers in relation to the population of South Korea, the result is much more comparable picture: With 0.30 tourists per resident, South Korea ranked 115th in the world. In East Asia, it ranked 3rd.

South Korea generated around 19.86 billion US Dollar in the tourism sector alone. This corresponds to 1.2 percent of its the gross domestic product.



Back to overview: South Korea

The most popular cities in South Korea for international travelers are Seoul and Jeju. In 2018, Seoul ranked 24th among the world's most popular cities with 8.43 million tourists. Jeju was in 95th place with 2.35 million tourists.

Development of the tourism sector in South Korea from 1995 to 2018

The following chart shows the number of tourist arrivals registered in South Korea each year. Anyone who spends at least one night in the country but does not live there for more than 12 months is considered a tourist. Insofar as the survey included the purpose of the trip, business trips and other non-tourism travel purposes have already been excluded. The number of people passing through within the same day, and e.g. crew members of ships or flights are also not considered as tourists in most countries. If the same person travels in and out more than once within the same year, each visit counts again.

Data in the chart are given in millions of tourists. The red line represents the average of all 6 countries in East Asia.

Tourists per year in South Korea

Revenues in tourism

In 1995, tourism revenues amounted to 6.67 billion USD, or about 1.2 percent of the gross national product. This corresponded to about 3.75 million tourists at that time and roughly 1,777 USD per person. Within 23 years, the country's dependence on tourism has increased slightly. In the last year of the survey, the revenue now amounts to 19.86 billion USD, accounting for 1.2 percent of the gross national product. Each visitor now spends an average of 1,294 USD for his holiday in South Korea.

Tourism receipts in South Korea per year

All data for South Korea in detail

YearNumber of touristsReceipts% of GNPReceipts per tourist
19953.75 m6.67 bn $1.2 %1,777 $
19963.68 m6.35 bn $1.1 %1,724 $
19973.91 m6.32 bn $1.1 %1,616 $
19984.25 m8.26 bn $2.2 %1,944 $
19994.66 m8.34 bn $1.7 %1,789 $
20005.32 m8.53 bn $1.5 %1,602 $
20015.15 m7.92 bn $1.5 %1,539 $
20025.35 m7.62 bn $1.3 %1,425 $
20034.75 m7.01 bn $1.0 %1,474 $
20045.82 m8.23 bn $1.1 %1,414 $
20056.02 m8.29 bn $0.92 %1,376 $
20066.16 m8.45 bn $0.83 %1,372 $
20076.45 m9.27 bn $0.83 %1,437 $
20086.89 m13.46 bn $1.3 %1,953 $
20097.82 m13.29 bn $1.5 %1,700 $
20108.80 m14.32 bn $1.3 %1,627 $
20119.80 m17.33 bn $1.4 %1,769 $
201211.14 m18.73 bn $1.5 %1,681 $
201312.18 m19.46 bn $1.5 %1,598 $
201414.20 m22.39 bn $1.6 %1,577 $
201513.23 m18.71 bn $1.4 %1,414 $
201617.24 m20.92 bn $1.5 %1,214 $
201713.34 m17.17 bn $1.1 %1,288 $
201815.35 m19.86 bn $1.2 %1,294 $


All data correspond to the information of the World Tourism Organization.