April 16, 2024
Foreign tourists wearing Korean traditional costume hanbok tour Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul, March 3. Yonhap

Foreign tourists wearing Korean traditional costume hanbok tour Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul, March 3. Yonhap

By Lee Hae-rin

One out of three foreign tourists who visited Korea last year was aged under 30, recent data of travel authorities showed, highlighting the trend in which the median age of inbound travelers to the country grows younger amid the rising popularity of K-pop and other Korean cultural sectors.

According to the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), Monday, 35.6 percent of the country’s 11.03 million inbound visitors from last year, or 3.93 million people, were aged under 30. The figure is significantly higher than 27.6 percent from 2013.

Specifically, those aged between 21 and 30 took the lion’s share at 25.3 percent, or 2.79 million visitors, and the remaining 1.14 million were under 20, taking up some 10 percent of the total figure.

Meanwhile, the older age groups accounted for smaller shares, with those aged from 31 to 40 accounting for 20.6 percent or 2.27 million, those aged from 41 to 50 at 14.7 percent or 16.2 million and those aged over 61 at 10.1 percent or 1.11 million visitors.

The percentage of foreign visitors aged under 30 has been growing continuously from 27.6 percent in 2013 to 32.5 percent in 2016 and finally to 34.5 percent before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019.

During the pandemic, the figure went down slightly to 32.6 percent in 2020 and 20.4 percent in 2021, until it bounced back to 32.4 percent in 2022 and finally surpassed 35 percent last year.

The trend was also noticeable across various nationalities.

Among Japanese, who emerged as the largest group of foreign visitors to Korea last year, the portion of visitors aged under 30 represented 42.3 percent, which is a 15.7 percent point jump from 10 years ago.

Chinese, who ranked second in the number of inbound tourists, saw an 8.8 percent point growth to 38.3 percent of its visitors to Korea aged under 30, while that of the Philippines nearly doubled to 20.6 percent over the last decade.

The figure also grew from 29.4 percent to 37.7 percent among Thai travelers, from 28.7 percent to 35.7 percent among Vietnamese visitors and from 25 percent to 31 percent among Indonesian tourists.

In the case of Western countries, the ratio leaped from 28.6 percent to 43.6 percent among French travelers in 10 years, from 20.7 percent to 34.4 percent among British visitors, from 18.8 percent to 32.9 percent among Dutch tourists and from 11.2 percent to 27.2 percent among Italians.

Mexico also saw its figure go up from 2013’s 26 percent to 36.9 percent last year, while Australia and New Zealand’s numbers stood at 35.6 percent and 30.7 percent, respectively, each up from 26.1 percent and 28.5 percent from 10 years ago.


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