Newfound Vietnamese interest sees record rise in South Korea visits

By Nguyen Quy   February 5, 2019 | 08:30 pm PT
Newfound Vietnamese interest sees record rise in South Korea visits
Tourists walk under cherry blossom trees in Seoul, South Korea. Photo by Shutterstocks/CJ Nattana
The number of Vietnamese visiting South Korea grew by a whopping 40 percent last year as Vietnam became that country’s seventh largest tourism market.

More than 450,000 Vietnamese went to the East Asian country, a 40 percent rise from the previous year, according to the Korea Tourism Organization.

The availability of budget tours and direct flights by low-cost carriers have made Korea the number one choice for Vietnamese tourists.

Besides, the recent successes of the Vietnamese football team under South Korean coach Park Hang-seo have sparked great mutual interest between the two peoples.

South Koreans have been among the biggest groups of visitors to Vietnam in recent years, with more than 3.4 million arrivals last year, a 44 percent increase, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.

Last month South Korea surpassed China for the first time to become the largest source of tourists, with 389,000 Koreans visiting the country, a rise of 23 percent.

In its latest move to boost tourism and attract more Vietnamese visitors, the South Korean government has announced the issuance of five-year visas for permanent residents of Vietnam’s three biggest cities, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang, for stays of up to 30 days.

Kim Do-hyon, the country’s ambassador to Vietnam, said the new policy reciprocates the affection Vietnamese football fans have lavished on the South Korean coach of their football team.

A 2017 World Bank report said Vietnam is seeing an increasing number of people, estimated at 1.5 million a year, joining the ranks of the middle and upper classes.

"As Vietnam’s economy grows, and an increasing number of citizens join the ranks of the global middle and upper classes, more people are going to take an interest in traveling the world," Sean Preston, Visa country manager for Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, said.

According to Mastercard, Vietnam has the second fastest growing outbound market in the Asia Pacific region after Myanmar, with projected annual growth of 9.5 percent between 2016 and 2021.

Mastercard has forecast 7.5 million Vietnamese travelers will travel outside the country in 2021.

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