SEOUL, Feb. 20 (Korea Bizwire) — South Koreans traveling overseas spent a record amount last year, but spending per person declined, central bank data showed Wednesday.
The current account for last year showed travel expenditures of US$31.97 billion, the highest since recordkeeping began in 2006. Past figures show increases from $15 billion in 2009 to $20 billion in 2012, $25 billion in 2015 and $31.69 billion won in 2017.
The increase, however, was the smallest since the global financial crisis of 2009 at 0.9 percent, compared with an 8.3 percent gain in the number of South Koreans going on overseas trips.
Spending per person declined to $1,114 last year from $1,196 the year before.
Travel industry watchers said changed travel patterns likely led the data shifts. South Koreans opted for frequent short-distance trips to Asian countries instead of longer trips to the Americas or Europe, using low-cost carriers, they said.
Incoming travelers spent more than before, an increase of 14.6 percent last year for a total of $15.32 billion. The gain is close to the 15.1 percent increase in the number of foreigners who visited South Korea.
By country, the number of travelers from China rose 14.9 percent, and those from Japan added 27.6 percent. The visitors helped narrow the deficit in the travel index to $16.65 billion last year from $18.32 billion the year before.
The index for air transport improved from such increases, reaching $990 million last year from a deficit in 2017.