Asia Minute: Record International Travel for South Koreans

Sep 22, 2017

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It’s been a week with a focus on visitors as the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority wrapped up its Global Tourism Summit. One visitor market that state officials hope to cultivate is South Korea. It’s a country that’s seeing a rise in international travel with a special week of holidays coming up. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


More South Koreans are international travelers than ever before.

The Korea Tourism Organization says 22 million headed overseas last year, an increase of more than 15 percent from the year before.

That includes a record for international travel during the summer holidays.

And expectations are high for a ten-day holiday period that gets underway next week.

The centerpiece is Chuseok, a traditional harvest festival some call the Korean Thanksgiving.

This year, the government added an additional holiday and combined it with others to produce an extended vacation break, allowing for more overseas travel.

Interpark Tour analyzed data from last year and found three of the top seven cities for Korean tourists are in Japan, two are in China—the others are Taipei and Bangkok.

So far, Honolulu doesn’t make the top ten. 

Bloomberg recently interviewed the head of the Korea Tourism Organization’s international tourism strategy team, who said demand for international travel tends to surge when a country’s per capita income passes 20 thousand dollars.

The KTO expects more than 26 million South Koreans will travel overseas by the end of this year.

To put that number in context, it’s a little more than half the population of the country.