By Kim Da-ye
The number of foreign visitors to Seoul exceeded 10 million last year for the first time, with Chinese being the majority, the Seoul Institute said Thursday.
The figure for 2013 exceeds that of 2012 by 9.3 percent.
For the first time, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Seoul has outnumbered Japanese travelers. They also spent more money on average than Japanese visitors.
The fall in the number of Japanese visitors reflect the phenomenon of the weaker yen against the won, which makes Korean products more expensive in yen terms.
In 2013, foreign visitors spent an average of 1.41 million won per person, nearly twice as much as the 738,000 won reported in 2007, according to the institute. Shopping accounted for the largest share of their expenditure at 543,000 won.
The biggest spenders were the Taiwanese, who consumed averagely 1.46 million won per person, followed by the Chinese and Japanese.
Over 70 percent of foreign visitors to Korea were here just for tourism, while 4.3 percent came here to participate in conferences and exhibitions.
Visitors stayed an average of 5.4 days ― a little longer than the 4.8 days they stayed in 2007. More than half of them preferred sleeping at middle-low priced accommodations including business hotels, guest houses and youth hostels.
The artsy neighborhood near Hongik University, Samcheong-dong and Sinsa-dong emerged as the most popular destinations for tourists, the survey showed. In 2007, only 6 percent hung out in the vicinity of Hongik University, and in 2013, 35 percent did.
Traditional tourist spots including Namdaemun Market and Dongdaemun Market slightly lost their allure judging by the number of tourists who visited there last year.
Almost half of the tourists complained about language barrier, while a fifth did not like the traffic jams and touting.