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Market Trends

More accessible airline capacity, improved demand for tour group bookings, and an emerging independent traveller market are all expected to have a positive impact on South Korean arrivals.


The majority of South Koreans travel to New Zealand on pre-arranged group or semi-structured tour packages organised by South Korean tour companies. Many visitors combine a trip to New Zealand with another destination.

Bookings have increased, including growth in group travel. However, the overall forward outlook from Korea is still cautious. Higher airfares, land costs and new competitive pricing to Europe from multiple carriers and LCC short-haul are impacting travel demand to New Zealand.


South Korea over the past four decades has demonstrated incredible growth and global integration to become a high-tech industrialised economy. In the 1960s, GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia.

In 2004, South Korea joined the trillion-dollar club of world economies, and is currently the world's 12th largest economy. The Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 exposed longstanding weaknesses in South Korea's development model including high debt/equity ratios and massive short-term foreign borrowing. GDP plunged by 6.9 per cent in 1998, and then recovered by 9 per cent in 1999-2000. Growth moderated to about 4 per cent annually between 2003 and 2007. South Korea's export focused economy was hit hard by the 2008 global economic downturn, but quickly rebounded in subsequent years, reaching 6.3 per cent growth in 2010.

The US-Korea Free Trade Agreement was ratified by both governments in 2011 and went into effect in March 2012. Throughout 2012 and 2013 the economy experienced sluggish growth because of market slowdowns in the United States, China, and the Eurozone. The administration in 2014 is likely to face the challenge of balancing heavy reliance on exports with developing domestic-oriented sectors, such as services. The South Korean economy's long term challenges include a rapidly aging population, inflexible labour market, dominance of large conglomerates (chaebols), and heavy reliance on exports, which comprise about half of GDP.

For more information, visit www.forbes.com/places/south-korea

Key Indicators

Exchange Rate vs NZD:  825.88 Won = NZD1 (April 2015)
Expected GDP Growth:  +3.5 per cent for 2014

Data source:
Korea exchange bank

Outbound Travel

The number of outbound travellers leaving Korea dropped sharply from early 2011, mainly influenced by the Japanese tsunami and the ash cloud disruptions as a result of the Chilean volcanic eruption.

However, the market has been slowly recovering, with increased demand in particular for short-haul destinations.

The main focus of South Korean group tours has shifted to Europe and the United States, driven by favourable exchange rates, increased airline capacity, and aggressive pricing. The strong Australian dollar has seen a slow-down in Korean arrivals to Australia and the wider Oceania region.

Airline Update

Korean Air operates between four and seven services to New Zealand each week. Air New Zealand's code-shares with Star Alliance partners Asiana and All Nippon Airlines from Korea provide regional connections and access from Korea to New Zealand with convenient one-stop connections via Tokyo, Japan. Singapore Airlines operate daily one-stop services to New Zealand and operate convenient one-stop services to both the North and South Island via Singapore.