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Gangnam Style helps South Korea

The enduring popularity of Psy’s catchy lyrics and trademark dance moves in the hit tune Gangnam Style has helped to put South Korea firmly on the tourist map, with the country recording its best ever year for tourism in 2012.

After hitting more than a billion views on YouTube, sparking numerous parodies and inspiring everyone from the likes of Britney Spears to London Mayor Boris Johnson to shake their stuff, the bestselling song has inspired tourists to set their sights on Gangnam, an upmarket area of Seoul that lies across the Hangang River.

Tourist numbers to the Asian country leapt by 13.4% year-on-year in 2011, hitting some 11.1 million visitors, according to the country’s Culture Minister. The largest share of tourists came from nearby Japan and China. The number of Chinese tourists flocking to the country last year climbed by 24.7% year-on-year to reach 2.83 million, while Japanese visitor numbers hit 3.51 million in 2012.

Brits were also struck by a case of Gangnam fever with UK visitor numbers hitting 110,229 in 2012, up 10.6% compared to 2011. Ramy Salameh, a spokesperson for the Korean Tourism Organisation in London, told MailOnline Travel that Gangnam Style and K-Pop had played a part in attracting a new wave of visitors to the country.

“A 10.6% increase in arrivals from the UK to Korea is a clear reflection on the growing popularity of the destination, helped in no small part by Psy’s Gangnam Style,” he said. “Gangnam has really just been the icing on the cake though – the K-Pop genre has been growing in popularity for at least a couple of years.”

Tourism authorities in South Korea are also expecting a bumper year for tourism in 2013, which could be aided by British Airways recent launch of direct flights to the South Korean capital. If you are heading overseas in 2013, it’s important to secure travel insurance to ensure that you are covered for every eventuality.

Date Created: 07 December 2012

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