SEJONG, March 31 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s duty-free shop sales surged 21.6 percent on-year in 2014, the finance ministry said Tuesday, thanks to the steady rise in foreign travelers.
Data sent by the ministry to the National Assembly showed sales by the 43 duty-free shops in the country hitting 8.3 trillion won (US$7.5 billion) last year, up more than 1.5 trillion won from a little over 6.8 trillion won in 2013.
It said of the total, sales of shops located in cities jumped 32.2 percent on-year while those in airports and seaports moved up 5.9 percent.
The increase in sales is related to the over 14 million foreigners who visited the country last year, up from around 12 million in 2013.
Official data provided by the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute showed the average foreigner spent about US$900 last year, up from $774 the year before.
The increase in the number of duty-free shops in the country also helped sales numbers. In 2013, there were 40 duty-free shops in South Korea.
For 2015, the government will authorize the opening of four more stores, with one to be located on the country’s southern resort island of Jeju.