South Koreans’ spending in Asian countries increased sharply last year
as a growing number of local travelers in their 20s and 30s with a
limited budget went to Southeast Asian destinations where airfare, food
and lodging prices are cheaper. Also, many local tourists went to
neighboring Japan and China because of their geographical proximities.
According to BC card, one of Korea’s largest credit card issuers, Korean
travelers spent 51.8 billion won on BC credit cards in the Philippines
in 2007, up 95 percent from a year earlier, the largest spending
increase among the top 20 foreign destinations frequented by local
travelers. The Southeast Asian nation accounted for 3.7 percent of the
total overseas card spending by BC cardholders, up from 2.5 percent in
Singapore came in second as local tourists purchased goods and services
worth 35.2 billion won on BC cards there last year, up 45.5 percent.
Korean travelers’ spending growth in China posted the third largest,
followed by Japan and Hong Kong.
In contrast, local travelers spent only 4 percent more on plastics in
New Zealand in 2007 as its strengthened currency against the won
discouraged Koreans from spending in the country famous for sheep and
kiwis. Korean tourists’ credit card spending in Italy and Germany
increased by 11 percent and 12 percent, respectively.
Among the top 20 tourism destinations, Korean cardholders spent the
largest amount, 420 billion won, in the United States, accounting for
nearly 30 percent of BC Card’s overseas card revenues last year.
“Credit card spending in Asian countries has been increasing at a
faster pace over the past few years as more local tourists prefer to go
to destinations that are cheaper and closer. Not only on summer
vacations, but also on weekends, many Koreans headed for nearby
countries, following an introduction of the five-day workweek,” BC Card
He said a stronger won has also encouraged locals to go overseas and
spend more on goods and service, particularly in Asian countries where
prices are cheaper than Korea and other destinations. “The trend will
continue for the foreseeable future as an increasing number of the young
people will travel to Asian countries.”
According to the Bank of Korea, Korean residents’ entire credit card
spending overseas came to 1.6 trillion won in the third quarter of last
year, up 33 percent from a year earlier. Per capita spending reached
$864, up 24 percent from a year earlier.
Domestically, spending via credit cards hit a record high of 254.8
trillion won in 2007, up 15 percent from a year earlier. Monthly card
spending also set records with the December bills amounting to 24.9