South Korean Tourists Praise Japan for Cost/Performance Travel

South Korean Tourists Praise Japan for Cost/Performance Travel

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Cost/performance ratio of traveling to Japan
South Korean tourists now comprise the largest group of tourists to Japan - and many say it's because the price is right.

More people from South Korea are visiting Japan than ever. In fact, it’s now Japan’s top source of tourism. One reason? The price is right. Many travelers say Japan tops their list for cost-performance travel. Meanwhile, many destinations in the US and Europe are coming up short.

Japan & Thailand: Kosupa ga ii?

Kosupa ga ii (コスパ が いい)!

Short for cost performance, kospa is what people in Japan think of when evaluating their purchases. Is the product’s cost worth its performance? The best deals are when the performance outweighs the cost. The steal deals.

Kospa comes into focus more than ever when budgeting trips.

According to Consumer Insight, an organization specializing in travel research, South Koreans voted Japan and Thailand as having the best kospa––low cost and high performance.

9,375 South Koreans with travel records between September 2022 and August 2023 evaluated travel budgets and corresponding satisfaction levels. Creating separate rankings for budget and satisfaction levels, the study calculated the cost-performance index of 27 destinations. Index figures with a higher “+” number point to better cost performance. The higher a “–” number, the worse cost performance gets.

Low Budget & High Satisfaction Destinations


Japan and Thailand (both +14)

Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Spain (+8)

Meanwhile, South Koreans ranked the worst cost performance destinations in the order of France, mainland U.S., Hawaii, and the U.K. In these places, South Koreans spent an average of ₩ 350 thousand to ₩ 450 thousand ($262 to $338).

High Budget & Low Satisfaction Destinations

France (–16)

Mainland U.S. (–13)

Hawaii (–12)

U.K. (–9)

South Koreans spent a total average of over ₩ 2.57 million ($1,929) on overseas travel in 2023. Their spending was the largest in Europe at over ₩ 4.44 million ($3,332), followed by over ₩ 3.55 million ($2,664) in North America, over ₩2.23 million ($1,637) in the South Pacific, and over ₩1.44 million in Asia.

They spent the most in Hawaii, averaging ₩458 thousand ($343) per day, followed by Switzerland where they spent ₩ 411 thousand ($308) per day on average.

A Two-Way Travel Rush: South Korea and Japan

Japan-South Korea travel: Woman holding Japan and South Korea flags
Picture: Rina / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

South Korea and Japan are swapping tourists. According to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), Korean tourists comprised the largest group of foreign visitors to Japan in 2023 and were the 3rd biggest spenders.

25,070,000 foreign nationals entered Japan in 2023 for travel purposes, marking an 80% recovery to pre-pandemic levels, according to JNTO. 27% of entering tourists were from South Korea.

According to the Japan Tourism Agency, Korean tourists spent ¥744.4 billion in Japan, trailing after Taiwan, whose citizens spent ¥778.6 billion. Chinese travelers spent ¥759.9 billion.

The travel rush was a two-way trend with people from Japan becoming the number one group of foreign tourists to Korea for the first time in eleven years in 2023, numbering approximately 2.3 million.

Korean media analysts say the mutual increase in travel with Japan is a result of each nation’s leaders engaging in more shuttle diplomacy and strengthening their nations’ ties.

Embrain, a South Korean research panel has recorded changing attitudes in the country between 2020 and 2022. It found a 10% drop in participants in the boycott of Japanese products. Furthermore, compared to the 55% in 2020 who “would not go to Japan no matter how cheap it is,” those who refuse a trip to Japan decreased by nearly 30% in 2022.

The pro-Japan shift was evident in recent news when South Korean owners of Japanese restaurants in Seoul went so far as to mimic the dining experience they had in Osaka with Japanese-language menus and signs.

Bullet vacations: day trips to South Korea

Seoul, South Korea
Picture: plux2738 / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

Japanese people are going on what they call “Korean bullet vacations” – trips to South Korea that can be as short as a day. Travel packages including the flight and accommodation totaling a mere ¥35,000 make hopping a midnight flight and returning that same evening appealing to many.

The prevailing stereotype of Japanese tourists to Korea conjures an image of female consumers of K-pop and cosmetics. However, the Korean Tourism Organization (KTO) is beginning to target Japanese men.

After finding that 78.8% of Japanese males “want to or would go to South Korea,” KTO started advertising with flyers introducing saunas and shooting ranges. They hope that such traditionally “masculine” attractions will boost men traveling.


日本とタイ、「コスパ優秀」旅行地に選定…韓国人にとって「費用の負担だけで大きく満足度の低い国」は. 中央日報

韓国からの日本旅行需要、パンデミック前の水準に回復「目前」. KOREA WAVE

韓国に来た旅行者は11年ぶりに日本がトップ 訪日トップは約696万人で韓国 観光交流活発化 背景に日韓関係改善も. TBS NEWS DIG

週末は韓国へ!弾丸旅行で何を楽しむ?グルメに買い物・・・さらには“推し活”も 楽しみ方を徹底解剖【Nスタ解説】. TBS NEWS DIG

訪日韓国人急増、「いくら安くても日本に行かない」との回答も一変…その理由は?. ニューズウィーク日本版

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