The number of foreign nationals visiting Korea last year is estimated at over 11.1 million, generating $14.1 billion in tourism revenue, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said Monday.
The figure is a 13.4 percent rise from 2011 and the ministry expects it to increase in 2013.
According to the ministry, the number of tourists rose sharply in early 2012 but stalled in September and October when the political dispute between China and Japan over territory deepened and the travel industry in East Asia struggled overall.
However, the number of foreign visitors surpassed 10 million, a landmark figure for the local tourism industry, on Nov. 21. Based on the growth rate, the number is expected to have marked about 11.1 million as of Dec. 31, the government said.
Japanese accounted for the largest portion with 3.5 million, up 6.7 percent from the previous year, followed by 2.8 million Chinese and others.
“Now it is time for us to enhance the quality of tourism in Korea and improve the nation brand,“ the ministry said in a press release.
By Bae Ji-sook (email@example.com