The number of foreigners visiting South Korea declined 23.5 percent to 9.94 million in the January-September period compared to a year earlier, a report by the central bank showed Sunday.
Visits by Chinese nationals plunged over 60 percent on-year, as China restricted tour programs amid a diplomatic row over the deployment of a US. missile defense system in the country, according to the Bank of Korea.
In March, Beijing imposed a ban on tour packages to South Korea, which was lifted only recently.
Foreign tourists spent US$8.8 billion over the January-August period, down 23.6 percent from the previous year.
Japan, in contrast, saw the number of its foreign visitors increase 18 percent to 21.2 million in the January-September period, largely due to the weaker Japanese yen.
Japan also expanded the number of cruises and trips by budget carriers to attract more visitors, the bank added.