South Korea’s Travel & Tourism Poised for Historic Peaks, Economic Contribution to Hit $69.4 Billion, Reveals Latest World Travel & Tourism Council New Report


Thursday, June 27, 2024

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World travel & tourism council

The 2024 Economic Impact Report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) forecasts a stellar year for the travel and tourism sector in South Korea, with anticipated surges in its economic impact, employment opportunities, and consumer expenditures.

The latest projections suggest that the sector’s economic contribution will soar to a new high of ₩96.2 trillion this year, marking a 13.6% increase compared to the previous year.

This growth highlights the sector’s essential role in the national economy, accounting for 4.3% of South Korea’s total economic output.

Job creation within the travel and tourism industry is expected to hit new heights, with employment figures projected to reach 1.4 million in 2024, reinforcing the sector’s importance in fostering economic stability.

Spending by visitors is also expected to see a significant rise, with international visitor expenditure anticipated to return to 2019 levels at about ₩31.9 trillion, a 31.2% increase from the previous year. Domestic spending is forecasted to climb to nearly ₩35.5 trillion, up 7.2% from 2019 and 3% from 2023.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “The impressive growth of South Korea’s Travel & Tourism sector underscores the government’s outstanding commitment to prioritising tourism as a key driver of economic development.

“This dedication not only boosts economic growth but also enhances South Korea’s profile as a premier destination for travellers worldwide.”

Review of 2023

In 2023, the travel and tourism sector in South Korea underwent a robust revival, growing by 18.2% to reach ₩84.71 trillion, which accounted for 3.8% of the country’s total economic output. Despite this growth, it was still 6.3% below the levels seen in 2019.

The sector also played a significant role in job creation, adding 76.6 thousand new jobs and bringing the total employment to 1.34 million, a 6.1% increase from the previous year. Both international and domestic spending witnessed substantial increases, with international expenditures reaching ₩24.3 trillion and domestic expenditures climbing to ₩34.45 trillion.

Future Outlook

By 2034, the WTTC anticipates that South Korea’s travel and tourism sector will markedly enhance its annual contribution to GDP, reaching ₩130.9 trillion and nearly 5% of the national economy. Employment within the sector is expected to surpass 1.8 million jobs, representing a vital component of the national workforce and supporting 6.8% of all jobs in the country.

Regional Trends in Northeast Asia

The travel and tourism industry in Northeast Asia is poised for substantial growth, expected to increase by over 29% this year to a record-setting USD 2.3 trillion. Employment figures could closely match 2019 levels, potentially reaching more than 89.5 million. International expenditures are projected to exceed USD 250 billion, with domestic spending anticipated to hit a record high of USD 1.2 trillion, surpassing pre-pandemic levels by almost 10%.

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