The number of foreign tourists visiting South Korea fell 90.4% year-on-year in February to 65,582, including an 88.5% fall in visitors from China and 99.2% fall in those from Japan – the nation’s two largest source markets.
According to statistics published by the Korea Tourism Organization, the total number of tourists fell to a fraction of the 685,212 tourist arrivals in February 2020, impacted by fewer airline routes and entry restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were just 11,982 Chinese tourists in February compared with 104,086 a year earlier, and just 1,719 Japanese tourists compared with 211,199 in February 2020. Likewise, the number of arrivals from Taiwan fell 99.2% to 444.
For the first two months of 2021 combined, tourist arrivals to South Korea fell 93.7% from 1,957,920 to 123,979.
The absence of tourists has heavily impacted the nation’s 16 foreigner-only casinos, with Paradise Co having reported a 72.9% year-on-year decline in casino revenue in February to KRW64.10 billion (US$57.1 million) and a 67.0% decline for the first two months of 2021 combined to KRW44.75 billion (US$39.9 million).
Grand Korea Leisure saw an even greater impact due to another wave of COVID-19 forcing the closure of its casinos – Gangnam COEX and Gangbuk, Millenium Seoul Hilton in Seoul, and Seven Luck Casino Busan Lotte in Busan – in December. GKL reopened one of those, Seven Luck Casino Busan Lotte, in February but recorded just KRW507 million (US$448,000) in casino sales – down 98.8% year-on-year.