The Chosun Ilbo has been doing a series on foreign tourism in South Korea, which has been growing. (Both Mr. & Mrs. Outlier have attended conferences there this year, and enjoyed a bit of tourism on the side.) Here are a few observations about the statistical preferences of tourists from different countries.
The most popular souvenirs among Japanese visiting Korea are dried seaweed, kimchi, and ginseng or citron tea from the Namdaemun Market and superstores, according to the Seoul Station branch of Lotte Mart.
Nail clippers are the most popular item among Chinese visitors. “In China, Korean nail clippers are regarded as luxury goods,” claimed Chung Myung-jin, president of Cosmos Travel. “Chinese people like gold, so they buy dozens of gold-colored nail clippers when they come to Korea.” Gold-plated stainless chopsticks and spoons are also popular.
Southeast Asian tourists usually buy Korean beauty products, which are in vogue in their home countries. Meanwhile, Europeans prefer traditional gifts. “European tourists tend to buy souvenirs at historic sites like Gyeongju, or they buy custom-made Hanbok, or traditional Korean clothing,” said Park Eun-sun of KR Travel.
According to a survey of visitors in 2008 by the Korea Tourism Organization, more women visited from Japan than men, with 61.9 percent to 38.1 percent. The proportion of individual tourists (38.3 percent) was close to that of group tourists. As the two countries are close geographically and Japanese have a lot of information on Korea, many there feel it is easy to visit without tour guides or prearranged package tours….
A staffer at a beauty treatment shop in Myeong-dong, said, “Many Japanese tourists have cosmetic eyebrow tattoo procedures, manicure or laser body hair removal, which are much cheaper than in Japan.” They also like Korean food. Some 69.5 percent of Japanese tourists said Korean food is delicious. Food topped the list of souvenirs they buy with a whopping 67.1 percent. Japanese tourists stayed in Korea briefly but spent a lot of money. Each of them stayed 2.7 nights and spent $1,136 ($420 per day) on average….
Chinese tourist stayed on average 6.8 nights and spent $1,413 ($207 per day). Many visited Korea for the first time and were on package tours with group visas. Hanatour spokesman Chung Ki-yoon said, “Many Chinese tourists are on package tours of seven Southeast Asian countries.”…
Haban Tour spokesman Woo Hyun-ryang said, “The Chinese are used to huge cultural monuments like Taishan, the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City, so they usually complain even Mt. Seorak is just like a hill at the back of their village.” This means they need other special programs.
Chinese tourists from different regions also had very different tastes. Those from inland urban areas like Beijing preferred Jeju Island, while those from the booming industrial centers such as Guangzhou, Chengdu, or Shenyang liked to visit Myeong-dong and Dongdaemun shopping districts in Seoul. Rich Chinese visitors enjoyed buying designer goods at Lotte or Shinsegae department stores in Myeong-dong, Seoul, or at Centum City in Busan. Food is the biggest problem for the Chinese tourists, who usually complain that Korean food is not fatty enough for them.