SEOUL, Dec. 15 (Korea Bizwire) — The number of overseas tourists visiting South Korea is expected to slump to the lowest level in 32 years amid the new coronavirus pandemic that has practically paralyzed the global tourism sector, data showed Tuesday.
The number of foreigners who visited the country in the January-October period reached 2.39 million, down 83.6 percent from the same period last year, according to the culture ministry and the state tourism office.
Roughly half of the figure — 1.27 million — was tallied in January. But after the country reported its first virus case in January, the number began to slide to 685,000 in February and 83,000 in March.
The monthly average stayed at the 60,000 level throughout July to October.
If the decline continues, the number of incoming tourists is expected to total 2.5 million at the end of year, which would be the lowest since 2.34 million in 1988.
The forecast is also a far cry from the government’s 20 million projection made earlier this year.
“The number of incoming tourists reached a record high last year and reported an on-year increase in January, which stoked expectations. But the target drifted away due to the new coronavirus,” an official at the Korea Tourism Organization said.