Korea Times

A record 17 million visitors welcomed to Korea this year

The more than 30 per cent annual visitor increase marks a strong rebound from last year’s falling numbers from MERS

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 December, 2016, 11:03am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 December, 2016, 11:04am

By Lee Han-soo

The 17 millionth visitor to Korea this year was set to be welcomed at South Korea’s Gimpo International Airport today.

The previous record for annual visitors was 14.2 million in 2014.

The country’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) in coordination with the Korean Tourism Organisation (KTO) organised celebrations at Gimpo International Airport for this afternoon.

MCST Minister Cho Yoon-sun will give a flower necklace to the 17 millionth visitor.

KTO, the Visit Korea Committee, the Korea Airport Corporation and the airline carrying the visitor also plan to give gifts.

The record is a 31.2 per cent increase from the last year, when the number of visitors fell 6.8 per cent in 2015 due to Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

“The groundbreaking record of 17 million is a drastic 1.5 times increase from 2012 when Korea hit its first 10 million foreign travellers,” a MCST official told Financial News, a Korean business news outlet.

“For Korea’s tourism to take a leap forward, the government and the tourism industry must work together to develop tourism content in addition to improving the quality of the tourism industry.”