Published : 2013-02-03 20:39
Updated : 2013-02-03 20:39
The number of South Koreans traveling overseas in January spiked, mostly driven by the local currency’s steep ascent, which is giving them more price incentives to go abroad, industry data showed Sunday.
Hanatour Service Inc., the largest local travel company, said that overseas travelers using its service jumped 30.7 percent on-year in January to about 185,000. This is the monthly record high for the company, surpassing the 159,000 registered in August last year.
Of the total, 48.5 percent chose Southeast Asian countries as their destinations, followed by China and Japan with 20.4 percent and 18.5 percent.
Modetour Network Inc., a smaller travel agency, also benefited from a spike in overseas travelers last month. In January, about 103,000 people used the service provided by Modetour to travel overseas, a 21.6 percent rise from a year earlier.
Those leaving for Southeast Asian countries made up 53.5 percent, while China and Japan came next with 17.7 percent and 13.3 percent each.
In particular, the travelers to Japan jumped 66 percent on-year to exceed 10,000 for the first time since the massive earthquake that hit the island country back in 2011.
The surge in overseas travelers comes on the back of the strong local currency, which gave Koreans more price advantages in foreign countries.
According to an earlier report by the central bank, the won gained 7.6 percent against the dollar last year from a year earlier, while it rose 19.6 percent against the Japanese yen over the same period.
The strength of the South Korean won comes from a massive credit injection by those countries in order to prop up their economic recoveries. The South Korean currency is expected to gain more ground going forward as they will likely continue such quantitative easing steps.
“Thanks to (the rising value of) the local currency, the actual costs of traveling, including accommodations and shopping declined significantly,” an industry official said. “Besides, the relatively cold weather this winter seems to be encouraging more people to go abroad to enjoy the warmer climate in many Southeast Asian countries.” (Yonhap News)