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Back Local News Korean tourist arrivals highest ever

Korean tourist arrivals highest ever

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GUAM tourism continues on its course to a banner year, according to statistics released yesterday by the Guam Visitors Bureau. Most notable is the increase in the number of visitors from Korea that reached 208,060 for fiscal 2013 that began Oct. 1, 2012 through Aug. 24. The number represents a 39.9 percent increase over the same period in FY2012. The number of Korean arrivals for all of FY2012 was 165,143.

It is also the highest number of Korean tourists to visit Guam ever. The previous high was 194,600 Korean visitors in 1996, before the crash of Korean Air Flight 801 in August 1997 caused arrivals from that country to shrivel.

The Korean arrivals also represent a 16 percent increase over GVB’s original projection of 190,000 for the fiscal year, according to a GVB statement. GVB has since revised its projection to 220,000 Korean visitors by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. “This equates to an impact of $423.5 million to the island's economy,” according to the GVB statement.

Overall, fiscal year-to-date arrivals through Aug. 24 are 1.2 million, up 6.3 percent over the same period last year. Other source markets with notable increases over last year are Russia with a 130.7 percent increase to 5,381 visitors, China with a 13 percent increase to 9,345 tourists, and Japan which increased 1.5 percent to 818,893 FY2013 visitors to date.

“The additional flights from Seoul Incheon and the addition of Busan as a gateway city, coupled with increased and proactive marketing initiatives by GVB, are now yielding great benefits to the island as shown in our arrival reports,” said Karl Pangelinan, general manager of GVB. “This market is only going to grow and we would not have achieved this milestone without the support of our people, our island leaders and those who day in and day out work the front lines of visitor guest services.”

Factors

The growth in the Korean market is due to several factors, GVB officials have said. One is the entry of low-cost Korean air carriers into the Guam market. In 2010, Jin Air joined Korean Air with daily Guam flights and in September 2012, Jeju Air began servicing the Incheon-Guam route, also with daily flights. The carriers recently announced that they will each add a second daily flight later this year. In October 2012, Korean Air began air service from Busan.

Pangelinan added that a Guam delegation is traveling to the 2013 Busan International Travel Fair. “During our budget hearings, GVB chairman of the board, Mark Baldyga, stated that the greatest asset of our island that sets us apart from other island resort destinations is our people,” he said. “While in Busan, we will proactively tell that story and showcase our unique Chamorro culture.”

The Busan fair takes place Sept. 6 to 9. The 2012 fair attracted 91,691 attendees and featured 430 booths, with participants representing 234 organizations from 37 countries, according to the fair’s website.

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