Arrivals of foreign visitors top 2 million in first quarter

April 14, 2009 11:44 pm 

SEOUL, April 14 — The number of foreign visitors who arrived in South Korea in the first quarter rose by more than 25 percent from a year ago to top two million, due largely to the nation's growing popularity among Japanese tourists, the government said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Justice said that some 2.01 million foreigners entered South Korea in the January-March period, up 25.6 percent from 1.6 million recorded in the same period last year. It is the first time that the number of foreign arrivals exceeded two million in the first quarter. Some 70 percent of the foreign visitors are tourists.

The ministry attributed the increase in travelers to the devaluation of the South Korean won against the U.S. dollar, the Japanese yen and other major currencies. The local currency has depreciated some 25 percent against the U.S. dollar last year and plunged approximately 40 percent against the Japanese yen.

The number of visitors from Japan reached 855,448, up 61 percent from 531,407 a year earlier. Visitors from Hong Kong and Vietnam increased by 38 percent and 25.3 percent, respectively.

The Japanese visitors accounted for 47.7 percent of all foreign arrivals here, with Chinese and Americans accounting for 17.1 percent and eight percent, respectively.

Despite the rise in foreign tourists, business travelers from abroad dropped 19.2 percent from last year to 15,850. The number of arrivals by overseas students, however, climbed 34.8 percent from a year ago. (PNA/Yonhap)

FFC/ebp

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