SOUTH KOREA. Chinese visitor arrivals rose +45.9% year-on-year in July to 410,337, maintaining the sharp recovery from the 2017 THAAD crisis, according to new Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) figures.

While still far off the pre-THAAD July 2016 record of 917,519, the results continue the positive pattern seen in a +60.9% increase in April, a +46.1% rise in May and +49.0% rise in June. Chinese tourism slumped after the 17 March, 2017 crackdown on group tours to South Korea.

For the first seven months of the year Chinese arrivals edged ahead by +1.8% to 2,580,935. Underlining the extent of last year’s crisis, that number is still some -45% behind the 4,734,275 recorded in the normalised comparison year of 2016, short of 2015’s 3,256,682 and even 2014’s 3,361,654

Japanese arrivals rose +35.1% in July to 230,512 and +20.2% in the first seven months to 1,536,688.

Outbound Korean departures rose just +4.4% in July to 2,495,297, the slowest monthly growth since February’s +3.6%. For the first seven months Korean departures increased by +12% to 16,811,402.

The latest numbers are good news for Korean travel retailers such as Lotte Duty Free (Myeong-dong, Seoul store pictured).

While July was a modest one in terms of outbound Korean tourism, 2018 has seen solid +12.0% growth for the year to date.

Back to form: July saw an encouraging +45.9% surge in Chinese tourism while Japanese visitor numbers also rocketed over last year.

Back in the black: The recent momentum has seen year-to-date figures creep past 2017 levels. But they are still far off the record 2016 results.