Tourist arrivals from South Korea show marked decline
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
ONLY 300 South Korean tourists visited Brunei last year, according to the South Korean embassy.
Outgoing Korean ambassador, Choi Byung-Koo, told _The Brunei Times _that visitor arrivals from his country have dwindled since 2012 when 2,000 arrivals were recorded from South Korea.
“There were less than 300 last year. Many South Koreans are not aware of Brunei, but there are also not many places to visit, and the religious customs are not familiar to South Koreans,” he said.
On the other hand, tourist arrivals from Brunei to South Korea have surged, spurred by the growing popularity of South Korean pop culture, he said.
“It is somewhat of an asymmetrical phenomenon,” said Choi.
“More than 2,000 Bruneians visited South Korea last year – that’s a big number.”
He added that it would be difficult to encourage South Koreans to come to Brunei with several ASEAN destinations offering stiff competition.
More than 100,000 Koreans visited Malaysia last year, facilitated by daily direct flights and a more favourable currency exchange.
South Korea is an important market for ASEAN tourism, with 4.9 million South Korean tourist arrivals recorded last year.
Meanwhile, Brunei’s Tourism Development Department is trying to capitalise on the South Korean market by training local tourism professionals in Korean language and culture in order to provide services closely attuned with the needs of South Korean tourists.
The department said South Korea is one of the key tourism markets for Brunei, even though it is still small.
Despite the small number of South Korean visitors last year, tourists from the country were among the top 10 arrivals in Brunei in 2013, comprising two per cent of the total arrivals.
The Brunei Times