[News Focus] US nationals could overtake Chinese as most foreign visitors to Korea

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SEJONG – U.S. nationals will likely make up the largest proportion of incoming foreign visitors this year, overtaking Chinese visitors, who have held the top spot for more than a decade.

According to the Korean Immigration Service, the total number of foreigners who visited South Korea reached 747,813 for the first nine months of the year.

The data showed that nearly one in four non-Korean visitors was an American national: they accounted for 24.2% of the 181,558 people who visited Korea during the January-September period.

They far outnumbered the 144,309 Chinese visitors, who accounted for 19.2% of the total.

In contrast, in the corresponding period of 2020, the number of Chinese visitors greatly exceeded that of the United States, with 707,302 to 216,312. Americans ranked third on the list of foreign visitors by nationality, after 434. 961 Japanese visitors.

In 2019 and 2018, Americans were in fourth place, after the Chinese, Japanese and Taiwanese.

“US nationals have overtaken those of Taiwan, Japan and China, in turn. This could be attributed to the unprecedented pandemic situation, ”said a tourism research analyst.

He suggested that travelers from neighboring Asian countries may be more reluctant than North Americans to visit Korea, pointing to the sharp rise in the number of coronavirus infections involving the delta variant.

For the first nine months of 2021, the Japanese slipped to 11th place in visitor numbers with just 13,300, and the Taiwanese to 17th with 4,298.

After Americans and Chinese, visitors from the Philippines ranked third on the list with 84,012, followed by Myanmar nationals with 40,857 and Indonesians with 34,666. Next come those from Russia, India, Canada, from Vietnam and Germany.

The number of visitors to Macau has plunged 99.6% in one year to just 24 visitors in the past nine months. Hong Kongers, likewise, registered a drop of 98.9% to 984 visitors.

Overall, the tally of all foreign visitors fell 69.6% year-on-year, compared to 2.45 million in the January-September 2020 period.

Despite the sharp drop in arrivals, the number of foreigners “remaining” in the country as short- and long-term visitors (including residents) increased for the second consecutive month, according to data from the Korean Service of the United Nations. ‘immigration.

The tally of expatriates staying in Korea stood at 1.982 million in September, slightly higher than the 1.976 million recorded in August and the 1.974 million in July.

Positive growth was seen in those two months after a 19-month drop that began in January 2020, when COVID-19 initially hit the country.

The rebound, while meager, reflects the return of international students after weeks or months in their home countries.

But the number of foreigners staying in the country last month remained at the same level as in mid-2016.

Compared to December 2019, when the figure peaked at 2.52 million, the number of expatriates is down 21.4%.

The number of long-term visitors (involving foreigners registered as residents) – those who stay in Korea 91 days or more – increased from 1.73 million in December 2019 to 1.56 million in September 2021.

The number of short-term visitors – those allowed to stay in Korea for up to 90 days – fell more sharply, from 792,853 to 419,009.

The drop in short-term visitor numbers could be attributed to a sharp drop in the number of travelers entering here for tourism or business amid the pandemic.

By Kim Yon-se ([email protected])


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