SEOUL, Dec, 20 (Korea Bizwire) — Vietnam was the most visited Southeast Asian country for South Koreans in the first 11 months of this year with more tourists taking advantage of cheaper tickets offered by low-cost carriers, government data showed Wednesday.
The total number of South Koreans who visited Vietnam came to 1.71 million in the January-November period, up 36.4 percent from the same months a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO).
Vietnam became the most popular Southeast Asian country for South Koreans last year with 1.54 million visitors, outnumbering those who headed to the Philippines and Thailand whose numbers came to 1.48 million and 1.46 million, respectively, the data showed.
The number of outbound travelers to Vietnam first topped the 1 million-mark in 2015, jumping 38.3 percent on-year, followed by 34-percent growth in 2016. The tally for the first 11 months of this year already surpasses last year’s total.
The popularity comes in line with South Korean budget carriers’ move to expand international routes to Southeast Asia, industry watchers said.
In 2016, the country’s six budget carriers — Jin Air, Jeju Air, Air Busan Co., Air Seoul Inc., Eastar Jet and T’way Air Co. — transported 19.6 percent of passengers traveling abroad. The figures were up from 14.6 percent a year earlier, according to a separate government data.
Meanwhile, the number of South Koreans visiting the Philippines has been declining amid rising safety concerns due to a flurry of deaths in the Southeast Asian country, mostly involving profit-motivated crimes. The number of South Korean nationals killed in the Philippines stood at 11 in 2015 and nine in 2016.