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S. Korea's tourism deficit to hit record high on China setback

All Headlines 10:42 December 31, 2017

SEOUL, Dec. 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's deficit in the tourism sector is expected to hit a record high level this year, due largely to a drop in Chinese visitors following a diplomatic row between Seoul and Beijing over a U.S. missile defense system here and a rise in outbound travelers, data showed Sunday.

The country's tourism-related deficit in the first 10 months of the year came to US$11.15 billion, according to the data provided by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO). The tally may top $13 billion for the whole of the year, it forecast earlier.

The imbalance in the tourism account is largely attributable to the Chinese government's ban on selling Korea-bound tour programs, which took effect in mid-March, among a string of other retaliatory measures put forward by Beijing against South Korean companies and their products over the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in the country.

The number of foreigners who visited South Korea from January to November came to 12.2 million, down 23.3 percent on-year, amid a sharp decline in the number of Chinese visitors.

In the first 11 months of the year, the number of Chinese tourists in the country dipped 49 percent from a year earlier to 3.83 million. Chinese accounted for nearly half of the 17 million foreigners that visited the country last year.

The tally for outbound travelers in South Korea, meanwhile, rose 18.2 percent to 24.09 million in the first 11 months of the year, according to the data.

In this file photo taken Jan. 27, 2017, the departure lounge of Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, is packed with tourists on the Lunar New Year's holiday. (Yonhap)

sam@yna.co.kr
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