Mark the new date for a stronger WiT Seoul 2020: October 29
There’s no doubt that the South Korea travel market is in the midst of a major transformation as changes in consumer behavior accelerate and travel suppliers struggle to adapt in one of Asia’s most dynamic and competitive markets.
The good news is, although tensions with Japan over wartime history and trade policy led to steep drops in travel to Japan (60% decline in September 2019, for instance), the appetite for travel in Asia’s second largest outbound market remains strong.
Total outbound numbers for 2019 are expected to reach 28m, around the same level as the 28.7m recorded in 2018 – this means more than half of the population of South Korea travelled abroad. Noteworthy are increases in travel to Vietnam (24% in 2019) and to Taiwan (38.6%), possibly beneficiaries of the shift from Japan.
Inbound has also recovered to 2016 levels (17.2m), which was the year when political issues between South Korea and China led to a dramatic 18% drop in inbound numbers to 13.3m in 2017. As of November 2019, inbound numbers stood at slightly over 16m and projections are that it will slightly surpass the 2016 number.