Latest market profile—before COVID-19—shows a Glidepath that Still Has Promise: With the devastation of the overseas tourism market for the United States now in a state of Limbo, we at INBOUND wondered if the full-year 2019 data, along with the last long-term forecast of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) had much validity or use.
The blunt answer is “Yes,” because the full year data for 2019 are all we’ve got. The 2020 data, once completely tallied, will be almost meaningless because they will serious skewed by the fact that this is a lost year. And the full-year data for 2021 (as filtered and fleshed out with an analysis of the Survey of International Air Travel to the United States) won’t be ready until the spring of 2022.
So, what follows are some of the key component parts of NTTO’s Market Profile of South Korea—one of a series that we have assembled since the completion several months ago of the NTTO profile series for all major U.S. source markets.
There are some subtle differences in the way South Koreans, now a Top 5 overseas source market for tourism to the USA, are planning the travel, what their purpose for traveling is, and what they do when they do visit.
South Koreans, it seems, are ready to pick up where they left off prior to the COVID-19 global pandemic bringing global travel and tourism to a near halt. Ever since the nation was approved as a member of the Visa Waiver Program at the end of 2008 (2009 was sluggish, because the world was still in the throes of a global financial crisis), South Korea has experienced steady growth.
What problems the country is experiencing are internal, or involve its relationship to North Korea and China, and don’t seem to affect its ability insofar as travel to the U.S. is concerned. As for the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, only a few nations have responded as effectively as South Korea. With a population of more than 52 million people it has, at the time this was prepared, experience a little more than 300 deaths attributable to the virus. This means that South Koreans, are and will be ready to resume their overseas travels.
So, while we all wait for the pandemic to pass, it might be worth your while to review the following numbers on South Korea.
Note: Only country and world region destinations having a sample size consistently of 100 or more are displayed. (Ergo, no Las Vegas, which had totals for just two years of the above table.) Visitation incidence was rounded to two decimal places in NTTO source files beginning in 2014 to reduce artificial ‘jumpiness’ in the data caused by rounding to only one decimal places, especially for destinations having incidence of less than two percentage points. Due to quarterly data weighting by country and port of entry, some unreported destinations may have a higher proportion of total than those reported.
Notes on some of the changes above:
—Shifts in purposes of trip by Korea travelers to the U.S. since 2015 show that vacation/holiday is the top purpose of trip. It has moved up and down slightly over the years peaking in 2018 and then dropping slightly in 2019. Visiting friends and relatives has dropped each year since 2015. Convention travel had dropped three straight years before rebounding in 2019. Education increases then declines every other year whereas business travel peaked in 2017 and then has dropped sharply the last two years.
—Koreans rely upon personal recommendations for their top information source used when planning a trip and saw its peak use between 2015 and 2019 in 2019. Travel agency use has increased the last four years and the use of airlines as an information source also peaked in 2019.
—Koreans leisure activity participation is dominated by sightseeing and shopping. Water sports has posted gains for the last three straight years. Fine dining and visiting National Parks/Monuments peaked in 2016 and has since dropped slightly each year since. Most of the other activities are up and down over the years, but you can see the downward trend in most of the activities since 2015.
General Notes on NTTO material: Only country and world region destinations having a sample size consistently of 100 or more are displayed. Visitation incidence was rounded to two decimal places in NTTO source files beginning in 2014 to reduce artificial ‘jumpiness’ in the data caused by rounding to only one decimal places, especially for destinations having incidence of less than two percentage points. Due to quarterly data weighting by country and port of entry, some unreported destinations may have a higher proportion of total than those reported.
For additional information, visit https://travel.trade.gov/