SEOUL, Dec. 2 (Korea Bizwire) – The number of South Korean overseas tourists rose in November from a year earlier despite the offseason, industry data showed Friday, sparking concern over the country’s continued tourism deficit.
Hana Tour Co., the nation’s largest travel agency, said some 242,000 South Koreans traveled abroad through the company last month, up 12.7 percent from a year earlier.
The figure was approximately 2,000 people more than the previous month, suggesting the number of overseas travelers increased steadily in November, which is usually considered an offseason month.
Japan was the top destination with nearly 35 percent visiting the neighboring country, followed by Southeast Asian countries with 32 percent, China with 20 percent and the South Pacific with 6 percent.
The number of visitors to Japan surged 15.8 percent on-year last month, showing the neighboring country remained popular among South Korean overseas tourists despite earthquakes and other unfavorable factors there, Hana Tour said.
Mode Tour Network Inc., the No. 2 tour operator, said it arranged overseas trips for 140,000 South Koreans in November, up a whopping 27 percent from the same month a year ago.
With demand for overseas tours remaining high during the offseason, South Korea’s tourism balance remained in the red for nearly two years in October. According to data by the Bank of Korea, the country posted a tourism deficit of US$330.5 million in October, marking the 23rd straight month of red ink.
A tally by the state-run Korea Tourism Organization showed that outbound travelers totaled 1.87 million in October, far outnumbering the 1.59 million foreigners who visited South Korea.