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Asia Minute: South Koreans’ Overseas Spending Hits Record Levels


Visitor spending and arrivals are up across the islands compared to a year ago. That includes visitors from most markets in the Asia Pacific. And residents in one of those countries are setting records for foreign travel.

South Koreans are spending money overseas like they never have before.

The Bank of Korea is out with a new analysis of how and where the country’s travelers are paying for international experiences.

It’s a continuing trend, the central bank says disposable income for South Koreans has increased 14-percent over the past three years – while their spending overseas has risen three times as fast.

Some of that spending takes place in Hawai‘i — despite a slight drop in August, arrivals from South Korea through 2018 so far are up from a year earlier. Compared to other international visitors to Hawai‘i, South Koreans are ahead of the Chinese and behind the Australians.

Their level is still relatively low. South Koreans make up about half the level of Canadian visitors and only about 15-percent of Japanese travelers to Hawai‘i.

Government figures show mainland U.S. destinations are more popular — including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. And for the most part, a lot of those South Korean travel expenditures go closer to home — including Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Credit Sheba_Also / Flickr

Some factors point to a continuation of increased overseas travel for South Koreans.

Those include relatively cheap airfares, and a won that has been strengthening since the spring – which means South Korea’s currency goes further than it used to on the road.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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