Asia Business Channel

South Korean replaces China as Vietnam’s #1 tourist market

South Korean tourists visiting Vietnam have surpassed Chinese tourists for the first time to become the biggest market for Vietnamese in-bound tourism. According to the General Statistics Office, which keeps records on tourism arrivals, January 2019 saw the number of South Korean visitors increase 23% year-on-year to 389,000 people. South Koreans accounted for almost 25% of Vietnam’s total international tourist arrivals for the month,

The number of Chinese tourists to Vietnam dropped 10.7% to 373,500 people, marking the first time that South Korea has overtaken its neighbor to become a key driver of Vietnam’s tourism boom.

Tourism industry experts say that the factors that are have led to the robust growth in South Korean tourism to Vietnam are:

• A 15-day visa waiver for South Korean tourists to Vietnam
• An increase in the frequency of direct flights connecting major cities in both countries
• The success of the Vietnamese football team under coach Park Hang-seo

According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, South Koreans have been among the biggest groups of visitors to Vietnam in recent years. More than 3.4 million South Korean’s visited Vietnam in 2018, a 44% year-on-year increase above 2017.

South Korean visitors find Vietnam a very friendly and easy country to visit. There are a variety of culture exhibits throughout the country and beautiful beaches, and in January it’s much warmer than in South Korea. Young Vietnamese are also enamored with Korean culture, including K-Pop, Korean movies, Korean television soap operas and Korean foods and they are eager to meet and become friends with South Koreans.

A survey of Vietnamese university students asked them what country in Asia they would most like to make friends with, and an overwhelming majority said South Korea. Vietnamese university students were also asked which countries they believed were most compatible with Vietnam and Japan and South Korea both ranked at the top.

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