Seoul – It’s all about K-imchi, K-ool, and K-onnected

Karun Budhraja

Vice President, Corporate Marketing & Communications, Amadeus Asia Pacific

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Use of smartphones to make travel arrangements and bookings, by country

use of smartphones infographic


When you arrive in a place like Seoul, South Korea for the first time, you naturally take in your surroundings, eyes agog with the newness of experiencing a new city. I was struck by an interesting thought. Never have I seen a place where technology is so pervasive. It’s everywhere. Wi-Fi is everywhere (and it works!), and it’s free!

Korea is one of, if not, the most tech savvy nations on Earth.

Koreans love their personal technology. They have the highest smartphone usage in the world, estimated at 73% this year and over 80% use social media while travelling, higher than most of the Asia Pacific region.

So how does Korea’s highly tech-savvy population impact the travel industry?


outbound departures infographic


Outbound departures from Korea, 1980 – 2012


I was lucky enough to be in Seoul for our inaugural customer conference, ‘Collaborate 2013’ co-hosted with our Korean partner TOPAS, this week and learned a lot from the 250 travel

professionals that attended the one day event. For one, the strong social media culture means

that travel companies can communicate with their customers using increasingly sophisticated

technology, and that Korea is becoming the ‘coolest’ destination in Asia thanks to rising

popularity of the music and fashion industry. With ‘Gangnam Style’ now the world’s most

downloaded song in history, it’s no wonder people are getting curious about the North Asian nation.

inbound visitors to korea infographic

Inbound visitors to Korea, 1990 – 2012


Necessary Infrastructure

But, with more than 12 million arrivals and 14 million departures last year, the mass increase in

travellers (arrivals have been increasing at around 12% a year for 30 years if you can believe it), means the travel industry must invest in the right infrastructure to support the growth.

There is no doubt that Korea is one of the most exciting travel markets in Asia Pacific and one of the most rapidly evolving travel markets in the world.

Find out more about Korea’s travel growth in our latest research report,Shaping the Future of Travel in Korea; the big four travel effects




Asia Pacific, Research