by Mark Albert
A new analysis finds that bookings into South Korea in February jumped 15.4% compared to a year ago, due to the Olympics in Pyeongchang, which officially begin today.
But as soon as the Olympics end, inbound flight bookings fall off, sinking nearly 25% from the same period in 2017.
“There was speculation that the Games could mark a tourism revival,” writes ForwardKeys, a data analytics firm, in a research note this week, “but that is looking unlikely.”
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Post-2018 Winter Olympics Tourism Hurt by China
Part of the steep drop in post-2018 Winter Olympics tourism is attributed to a decline in visits from China.
ForwardKeys says that authorities in China were “so displeased” with American-made missile systems being installed in South Korea to protect against the North Korean threat, that it “introduced measures to discourage its citizens” from traveling to South Korea.
Subsequently, visitor arrivals plunged an eye-popping 67%.
Even though China has now “relaxed its ban,” ForwardKeys wrote, inbound visitor traffic has not yet fully recovered, even as total Chinese outbound bookings for February have more than doubled, up 108% ahead of February 2017.
“In tourism terms, the winter Olympics will provide a glow against the gloom,” ForwardKeys CEO Olivier Jager said in a statement.
“The reality is that South Korea is very heavily dependent on China for its tourism exports and, right now, the strongly growing outbound Chinese market is headed elsewhere in Asia. The rebuilding of diplomatic relationships between Seoul and Beijing is the key to its recovery,” Jager added.
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Visitors Spike for Olympics
South Korea is still benefiting from a global influx of visitors for the 2018 Winter Olympics, though.
Overall, bookings for the Olympics are up 20% compared to February of last year, ForwardKeys said.
The “most spectacular growth” is from Vietnam, which saw inbound visits to South Korea soar an astronomical 555%.
The second-largest growth in inbound bookings came from Canada (41.6% ahead), Germany (30.7%), Hong Kong (24.8%), and the United States (23.8%).
The 2018 Winter Olympics conclude Feb. 25th.
The 2022 Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing, China, Feb. 4-20.
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