Tourism in South Korea

Tourism in South Korea

South Korea recorded a total of 18 million tourists in 2019, ranking 30th 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 0.34 tourists per resident, South Korea ranked 117th in the world. In East Asia, it ranked 3rd.

South Korea generated around 26.22 billion US Dollar in the tourism sector alone. This corresponds to 1.6 percent of its the gross domestic product and approximately 18 percent of all international tourism receipts in East Asia.

A global comparison can be found here › International tourism

Back to overview: South Korea

The most popular cities in South Korea for international travelers are Seoul and Jeju. In 2019, Seoul ranked 23rd among the world's most popular cities with 9.11 million tourists. Jeju was in 100th place with 2.28 million tourists.

Tourism in South KoreaOn average, each of the tourists arriving in 2019 spent about 1,311 US Dollars. Conversely, the inhabitants of South Korea spend only around 1,062 dollars a year when they themselves spend vacations abroad.

Development of the tourism sector in South Korea from 1995 to 2019

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 24 years, the country's dependence on tourism has increased noticeably. In the last year of the survey, the revenue now amounts to 26.22 billion USD, accounting for 1.6 percent of the gross national product. Each visitor now spends an average of 1,498 USD for his holiday in South Korea.

Tourism receipts in South Korea per year

All data for South Korea in detail

YearNumberof touristsReceipts% of GNPIncome per tourist
201917.50 m26.22 bn $1.6 %1,498 $
201815.35 m23.10 bn $1.3 %1,505 $
201713.34 m17.17 bn $1.1 %1,288 $
201617.24 m20.92 bn $1.4 %1,214 $
201513.23 m18.71 bn $1.3 %1,414 $
201414.20 m22.39 bn $1.5 %1,577 $
201312.18 m19.46 bn $1.4 %1,598 $
201211.14 m18.73 bn $1.5 %1,681 $
20119.80 m17.33 bn $1.4 %1,769 $
20108.80 m14.32 bn $1.3 %1,627 $
20097.82 m13.29 bn $1.5 %1,700 $
20086.89 m13.46 bn $1.3 %1,953 $
20076.45 m9.27 bn $0.83 %1,437 $
20066.16 m8.45 bn $0.83 %1,372 $
20056.02 m8.29 bn $0.92 %1,376 $
20045.82 m8.23 bn $1.1 %1,414 $
20034.75 m7.01 bn $1.0 %1,474 $
20025.35 m7.62 bn $1.3 %1,425 $
20015.15 m7.92 bn $1.5 %1,539 $
20005.32 m8.53 bn $1.5 %1,602 $
19994.66 m8.34 bn $1.7 %1,789 $
19984.25 m8.26 bn $2.2 %1,944 $
19973.91 m6.32 bn $1.1 %1,616 $
19963.68 m6.35 bn $1.1 %1,724 $
19953.75 m6.67 bn $1.2 %1,777 $

Our data on tourist numbers, revenues and expenditures are based on information from the World Tourism Organization. However, to ensure international comparability, the data for some years or countries were manually researched and corrected if they obviously included visitors without overnight stays. In these cases, the data were taken from the official communications of the respective national tourism authorities.

The WTO additionally points out that in some countries the number of tourists is only counted at airports, in others also at border crossings or even hotels. A comprehensive and reliable indication is therefore hardly possible in any country.

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