SEJONG, March 22 (Korea Bizwire) – A recent survey has revealed that the tourists spending the largest sums while visiting Korea were from the Middle East. A large portion of the spending was related to shopping and medical services including cosmetic surgery.
According to OECD data, 14.2 million tourists visited Korea in 2014, for a 16.6 percent increase over 2013.
Tourists spent an average of 1.87 million won during their time in Korea, with those from the Middle East spending the most at an average of 3.5 million won per person. Tourists from China and Japan spent an average of 2.44 million won and 1.17 million won per person respectively.
Middle Eastern tourists, who were the largest spenders, picked ‘medical tourism’ as their first purpose for visiting Korea.
Bridge Economy, a Korean business journal, reported the results of a survey conducted by Cosmojin Tour’s R&D center. Among 548 tourists from the Middle East, 93 percent answered that they were visiting Korea for medical purposes.
‘Shopping’ was another priority (91 percent), followed by ‘touring historical sites’ (89 percent), ‘DMZ tour’ (49 percent), and ‘watching performances related to the K-wave’ (35 percent).
According to the Korean tourism industry, the number of foreigners who visit Korea for medical purposes is increasing steadily. Data from the Ministry of Health and Welfare indicates that since soliciting foreign patients was first allowed in 2009, tourist visits increased by an average of 36.9 percent each year until 2013. A total of 630,000 foreigners visited Korea for medical purposes over the past five years.
Officials from Cosmojin Tour explained that tourists from Middle Eastern countries are interested in visiting cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists where Korean celebrities had work done, due to the popularity of K-pop and K-dramas.
By Francine Jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)