The Bank of Korea announced on July 9 that South Korean tourists and students spent US$6.64 billion in the United States last year, down 6.4 percent from a year earlier, while the amounts rose 4.2 percent and 16.3 percent to US$5.17 billion and US$8.36 billion in Japan and Southeast Asia, respectively. The amount in EU member countries fell 6.3 percent to US$5.8 billion and that in China fell 20.4 percent to US$1.75 billion.
This is because the number of South Korean tourists visiting Japan, Vietnam and so on increased. According to the Korea Tourism Organization, the number of South Koreans visiting Japan increased 5.6 percent to 7.54 million last year and that of those visiting Vietnam jumped 42.2 percent to 3.44 million during the same period. South Korea’s travel account deficit with Japan showed a slight decrease in 2018 as the number of Japanese visiting South Korea increased. Specifically, the deficit fell 1.8 percent to US$3.4 billion.
South Korea’s travel account deficits with the United States and Europe fell as well with fewer tourists visiting the regions. The deficits fell 9.8 percent to US$4.97 billion and 7.6 percent to US$5.25 billion, respectively.
In 2018, South Korea’s travel account surplus with China rose from US$3.43 billion to US$4.67 billion whereas it posted a travel account deficit of US$5.03 billion with Southeast Asia. South Korea has posted a travel account deficit all the way since 2000. The deficit added up to US$16.65 billion in 2018.