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11 Feb 2008


South Korean Tourist Market: Focus Shifting from Honeymooners to Single Females and Unmarried Citizens (Business Brief No.2105)

South Korea is a rapidly growing tourist market, thanks to the increased purchasing power of South Korean citizens. More and more South Koreans have lately been seen making international trips. Among the most favored destinations for South Korean tourists are short-haul attractions in Asia. Given this, South Korean visitors have gained greater visibility in the Asian tourism industry. Thailand ranks as the third-most popular tourist destination for South Korean visitors after China and Japan. South Korean tourist arrivals have therefore become vital to Thailand's tourism. Currently, South Korean arrivals are Thailand's third largest tourist market, trailing behind Malaysians and Japanese.
KASIKORN RESEARCH CENTER (KResearch) forecasts that South Korean arrivals to Thailand in 2008 may increase by 10.0 percent to total some 1.26 million, generating THB39.6 billion in tourism-related revenue to the country.
To boost South Korean tourist market, penetrating niche markets should be brought into focus. South Korean tourists are divided into the following groups:
1. The single females and unmarried citizens between 25-40 years old[1]: For 2008, TAT has set a target to promote increased visits by single middle-aged females and other singles by 10.0 percent. It is projected that this tourist segment could generate more than THB15 billion in tourism income, accounting to around 40.0 percent of the TAT tourism income target for 2008 of THB40 billion.
2. Newlyweds (Honeymooners): Thailand is a tourism destination that usually attracts the attention of newlywed South Korean couples, i.e., honeymooners traveling to Phuket, typically between March-May[2]. Moreover, other tourism venues in Thailand such as Hua Hin, Pattaya and Krabi are also popular among South Korean newlyweds averaging around 350,000 couples per annum, where one-third of them choose Thailand for a honeymoon. The purchasing power of this group is top ranked. However, in 2007, the market for honeymoon couples evidently decelerated to only 140,000 couples. Now, the fastest growing market is single persons.
3. Other niche-market groups that are growing interestingly include golf tours and MICE, which are both worth watching despite their small sizes at present.

[1] Data from the TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) office of Seoul, South Korea
[2] Results of a survey of tour companies offering honeymoon packages at South Korea's WEDDING SPRING 2006, published in the Global Travel News newspaper, January 2007.

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