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Exchange Rates Are Dropping. Go Abroad… Go Abroad…

Posted July. 14, 2002 22:18,   


Since the won to dollar exchange rates recorded the lowest since the foreign exchange crisis, outbound travel and excessive spending on foreign brand goods, which were deserted for some time, are increasing again.

Officers of many different organizations and government departments are going to overseas study tours or inspection tours with huge titles; however, most of the tours are transmuting to ordinary simple tours and even transmute to shopping trips to bur foreign brand goods.

The 14 chief directors of the local Owner Driver Taxi Association went to a trip with a title of ‘the Advanced Traffic Culture Experience,’ but they went to Mongol and Russia, where the taxi culture was not developed, so they scandalized the members of the association.

What is more, some government departments are tolerating the employees’ overseas travel in the name of an inspection tour. One economy related government department sent 3 employees on an official trip in the name of overseas inspection trip related to the works of May; however, the inside evaluation said it was almost same as an ordinary simple tour.

An officer of that department said, “When we induct some business from a foreign country, it is usual to go a ‘field study’ trip to that country; however, generally speaking, we receive all the necessary information through fax or such before we go, so we just do sightseeing,” and “it is same in other departments, too.”

The ‘overseas filming rush’ of broadcasting companies went back to its old phase before the foreign exchange crisis; therefore, morning programs of each broadcasting company have overseas travel journal of places and manners such as South America, Africa, or small islands of the Pacific every morning.

Since the exchange rates are low, the ‘overseas brand goods shopping trips’ to buy foreign brand goods are increased dramatically.

The TCTG Travel guide Sun Jae-gu, who recently returned from a 12 nights 13 days trip to Europe said, “I was so embarrassed because the Korean tourists swept the ‘Bally’ shop, in which a sale was going on, at Heathrow Airport duty free zone,” and “since the exchange rates dropping and a sale was going on at the same time, the overseas shopping trip of the Korean ‘brand goods people’ went too far.”

The sale rate of Korean duty free shops to Koreans kept growing; therefore, in case of Shilla Duty Free Shop, the sale rate to Koreans from the 1st to the 9th was 39% and it was much higher than the rate of the last year’s same period, which was 24%.

As reflecting this kind of social atmosphere, the Inchon International Airport Company predicts that the travelers who will use the Airport during the summer peak season from the 19th to August 11 will be 1,812,000 people and 75,500 people on daily average including foreigners.

That is the highest since the foreign exchange crisis in the end of 1997, and it is 14% more than last year’s 1,590,000 people.

On the other hand, the inspection on overseas travelers’ baggage will be reinforced until the 31st of the next month.

The Korea Customs Service announced on the 14th that they will reinforce the baggage inspection during summer in order to prevent the carrying in of the luxurious goods such as alcoholic beverages and cameras with out declaring.

Sun-Mi Kim Min-Hyuk Park kimsunmi@donga.com mhpark@donga.com