Korean outbound tourism statistics and most popular destinations

korea outbound tourism destinations

More and more Koreans like to travel abroad. The GDP per capita is increasing (graph is below) so more Koreans want to enjoy their holiday abroad. On average, a Korean visitor to the U.S. spends approximately $4,900 per trip. In 2018, over 28.7 million Koreans, more than half of the population, traveled abroad (up 8% from the previous year).  

This blog post consists of the following parts: 

  • Where Koreans get info about their holiday
  • Packages vs. free travel
  • Purposes for traveling 
  • Vacation statistics sources
  • Popular travel routes
  • TLDR

Where Koreans get info about their holiday

  • 76.8% of travelers use portal sites like Naver and Daum when they are looking for information about their trip.
  • 32.5% of travelers use SNS (e.g. Naver / Daum Cafe, Naver Blog, Instagram, Facebook) when they collect information about their trip. 

korea outbound tourism sites 2018

In the graph below, blue bars are families and orange bars are single travelers.

korea outbound tourism sites family single

The average number of days per trip is 4.62 days travelling overseas.

korea outbound tourism days length 2018

Koreans like to vacation during holidays (Christmas & New Year’s Eve, Korean Thanksgiving and Lunar New Year) and there are some destinations that are more popular than others. What are some other behaviors? 

Packages vs. free travel 

The majority of Koreans use packages when traveling in foreign countries, but so called “free travel” is becoming more popular with young people. All in one packages are usually bought 2-3 months before leaving.

korea outbound tourism package time

There are 2 types of packages: full package and partial packages. Full packages are more popular. Partial packages usually only include accommodation and transportation.

korea outbound tourism package type

Purposes for traveling 

Main purposes of traveling abroad are:

  1. Leisure time / vacation
  2. Business / professional activity

korea outbound tourism purpose

The most popular activities are: natural activities, relaxation and food tours.

korea outbound tourism activities

What are some Korean outbound travel statistics? 

Vacation statistics sources

There are several ways to get info about Korean outbound travel. 

Governmental data 

Travel data from companies 

Five of the most popular destinations among flight bookings & 6 destinations among hotel bookings are actually located in Southeast Asia. So many Koreans chose Southeast Asia for their summer vacation destinations. 

  • Trip.com – According to Trip.com , the most popular travel destinations were:
    1. Kalibo, Cebu, Osaka, Bangkok, Danang, Bali, Taipei, Tokyo, Ulaanbaatar, Hong Kong based on their data analysis of their Korean customers’ bookings of flights on their website between June and October in 2019.
    2. For hotels, the most popular cities were Bangkok, Boracay, Osaka, Lapu-Lapu City, Danang, Fukuoka, Tokyo, Bali, Sapporo, and Singapore. 
  • Gmarket & Auction – Gmarket is one of the most popular online shopping malls, and with Auction they are a part of eBay. According to their customers’ bookings on their website , the most popular destinations in July, 2019 were:
    • Singapore, Taiwan, Macao, Hong Kong in China, and Vladivostok, in Russia.
    • Especially flight bookings have been increased by 52% to Singapore, 38% to Taiwan, 33% to Macau, 22% to Hong Kong, 129% to Vladivostok in comparison of 2018 data while trips to Japan has been decreased down to 38%. Travel specialist analyzed these trends because of increased cheap airlines to these destinations. And current diplomatic conflicts between Korea and Japan led dropping percentages of bookings to Japan.
  • Triple – Due to current diplomatic conflicts between Korea and Japan, trips to cities in Japan fell for trips during coming Chuseok (Thanksgiving Day in Korea, major holiday for Koreans) in 2019 . Based on bookings trends on Triple, one of the most popular travel apps, the most popular destinations are:
    • Da Nang in Vietnam and other destinations are Taipei, Bangkok, Osaka, Hong Kong, Paris, Fukuoka, Cebu, Tokyo, and Guam as you can see from below. Last year, Osaka was the top 1 destination. 

korea outbound tourism destinations

Popular travel routes 

Hanatour (http://www.hanatour.com) is the biggest travel agency in Korea and stock listed, so you could consider their data present current traveling trends in Korea. According to Hanatour’s website, the most popular planned travels are mainly to Southeast Asia:  

  • Packaged trips in Southeast Asia – There are the most popular 3 pre-planned are these as following
    1. Da Nang/Hoi An/Hue in Vietnam Trip,
    2. Bangkok/Pattaya in Thailand Trips, and
    3. Singapore & Batam in Indonesia Trip.
  • The best packaged trips in China – There are the most popular 3 pre-planned trips in China are these as following
    • Zhangjiajie/Yuanjiajie Trip,
    • Hongkong/Macau Trip, and
    • Beijing/Tianjin Trip. 
  • The best packaged trips in Europe – There are the most popular 3 pre-planned trips in Europe are these as following
    • Spain/Portugal,
    • UK/France/Switzerland/Italy, and
    • UK/France/Switzerland/Italy/ Germany Trip.
  • The best packaged trips in North America – There are the most popular 3 pre-planned trips in North America are these as following
    • Las Vegas/San Francisco/LA/San Diego Trip,
    • Quebec /Montreal /Toronto /Niagara /Calgary/Lake Louise/Banff in Canada Trip, and
    • New York City/Washington DC/Niagara/Toronto/Quebec/Montreal Trip.

TLDR

Below are some statistics about the behavior of traveling Koreans:

  • Koreans, known to be workaholics, usually only have 5 consecutive days off for holiday per year
  • The vast majority (76.8%) of personal and family travelers use portal sites (like Naver and Daum, which have search engines like Google) to prepare for their trip
  • They (around 35%) use SNS (Naver / Daum Blog, Cafe, Twitter, Facebook) to collect information about their vacation
  • Many travelers go overseas for leisure (around 80%)
  • For their holiday, the majority spends 4.62 days abroad 
  • The budget is 1 – 2 million Korean Won (roughly $1,000 – 2,000 per person)
  • Even though packaged tours are in high demand, travel agencies are not a very popular source for info – around 30% of travelers use them 
  • Majority of target demographic are in their 30s and 50s (Generation X and Y)
  • Most popular destinations are in South East Asia

So, because Koreans’ holidays are short, they like to plan everything in detail beforehand (reading reviews) and / or book a packaged tour. Therefore, we suggest to post blog articles (reviews) on portal sites like Naver. Some overseas restaurants do not have any reviews yet, in Korea. Overseas tourism is very seasonal Koreans generally are used to a relatively high service level. For example, there is no service tip culture in Korea – tip is included in the price. 

Authors: HY L, Lim Hyeonsuk, and JK Song

Graph sources: Korea National Tourism Survey by The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism 2018 and 2016

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