S. Korea travel market growing strong: PhoCusWright

PhoCusWright recently published research on the burgeoning South Korean travel market. The South Korean Travel Market: Rising Again states that South Korea is an important and growing consumer market, and the travel opportunity should not be discounted.

A few key findings from the research:

  • Despite a slowing economy, the South Korea travel market is experiencing strong growth. With gains of 25% in 2010, gross travel bookings are projected to grow 45% from 2009-2012.1
  • South Korea boasts a large middle class with significant disposable income. The country’s GDP per capita is nearly six times that of China.2
  • Telecommunications infrastructure and adoption are strong. With high mobile phone and Internet connection penetration, the country has some of the fastest broadband speeds worldwide, creating attractive online and mobile opportunities.4
  • Credit card penetration is high. South Koreans collectively use over 117 million credit cards, with transactions worth nearly US$475 billion in 2010.3
  • Strong outbound resurgence. Roughly one in four Koreans traveled overseas in 2010 , and passenger demand on the international routes of Korean carriers rose an impressive 47%.5
  • Semi-packaged tours are on the rise. Packaged tours (i.e., tours including air and accommodations without itinerary or other travel-related assistance) grew from 4% in 2005 to 20% in 2012.6
  • Korean travelers shop online, book offline. Travelers flock to the Web in droves while shopping for travel, but booking remains predominantly offline. Slightly more than half of all Korean travelers visited the Internet to look for travel information in 2010.7 

1 PhoCusWright’s Asia Pacific Online Travel Overview Fourth Edition (2011)

2 Bank of Korea, International Monetary Fund and United Nations

3 “Credit Cards Trump Cash in South Korea,” April 13, 2011, Channel News Asia

4 Korea Tourism Organization and Korea Culture & Tourism Institute

5 Korea Airports Corporation

6 2009 Domestic Tourist Behavior Study, Korea Culture & Tourism Institute

7 2010 Outbound Tourism Report, Korea Culture & Tourism Institute