South Korean travelers are the world's sixth biggest spenders when they travel abroad, with many opting to vacation outside Korea but they may soon be opening their wallets at local attractions.
According to Mastercard on Monday, South Koreans are now among the top ten nationalities that spend the most when traveling overseas, a jump from ten years ago when they ranked 12th.
American and Chinese travelers top the list.
Japanese travelers ranked seventh, followed by Canadians, Russians and Taiwanese.
South Korea has seen its number of outbound travelers increase every year, with overseas tourist spending hitting a record 32-billion U.S. dollars in 2018, according to the Bank of Korea.
Some five billion dollars is expected to have flowed into Japan, the travel destination of choice for more than seven-and-a-half million, or one in three South Korean travelers last year.
They were the second largest group of visitors to Japan by nationality, after the Chinese.
However, with growing bilateral trade tensions sparked by the Abe administration's export restrictions on South Korea, more and more South Koreans have been cancelling trips to Japan.
Instead, they may soon be looking to vacation within Korea.
President Moon Jae-in strongly encouraged Koreans on Monday to travel domestically instead of flying overseas, to support local tourism.
With a sore lack of domestic travelers, Korea's tourism deficit amounts to some 13 billion dollars, with the industry amounting for a mere two.seven percent of GDP.
There, lies the potential to grow the industry into a booming sector.
The country is home to scenic mountains, islands and exquisite cultural sites that have been recognized as outstanding World Heritage Sites, most recently Seowons, which are traditional academic facilities boasting quaint wooden verandas surrounded by botanical gardens.
Nearly 30 million Koreans, more than half the population, travelled abroad last year.
Oh Soo-young, Arirang News.