Korea works to diversify its tourists by offering convenient services and special exepriences

Korea works to diversify its tourists by offering convenient services and special exepriences


China banned group tours to Korea. Part of many visible economic retaliation
against Seoul’s decision to deploy the THAAD missile defense system. Beijing’s action hit the local tourism industry
hard. However, Korea has a knack for bouncing back
and finding another way in such trying times. Lee Ji-won introduces to us some of those
countermeasures. Last year, Chinese tourists accounted for
nearly 50-percent of the 17-million tourists that visited Korea. But with Bejing’s ban on tours to Seoul, the
local tourism industry has been hard hit, seeing a 70-percent on-year fall in Chinese
tourists last month,.. leading to a 40-percent drop in the number of foreign tourists overall. And with heightened tensions on the Korean
peninsula aggravating the situation,… Seoul is expected to face its worst ever tourism
deficit of 15-billion U.S. dollars this year. But Korea has been coming up with various
measures to cope with the situation. The government and related ministries worked
to increase flights and cruises in and out of the country,… and even eased visa regulations. 3-point-4 million dollars has also been allocated
to boost transport and shopping,… including promoting a transportation card with extra
benefits and discounts for tourists, and providing free-wifi at 600 major attractions around
the country. But one of the long-term goals of Korea’s
tourism industry is to reduce the dependency on Chinese tourists. (Korean)
“We are focusing our promotional activities on southern and central Asia, places like
Taiwan and Hong Kong, doing things like making guide books and marketing through social media. We have also opened offices in Kazakhstan
and Mongolia,… which led to a 20 to 30 percent increase in tourists to Korea.” The organization also launched ‘Halal Restaurant
Week’ on Friday. With the number of Muslim tourists visiting
the country nearing one-million a year,… the event promotes Muslim-friendly restaurants
around the country and gives out discounts to tourists. Seoul City has also been working to welcome
tourists from southeast Asia. The city has put up some 50 new information
boards and maps with Thai, Vietnamese and Malay added in tourist hot spots. The boards previously just had information
in Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese. One of the boards can be found at Bukchon
Hanok Village, home to hundreds of Korea’s traditional houses,… and one of Seoul’s
major tourist attractions. (Thai)
“We found this information board really helpful because it tells us what this place is, the
significance of this tour spot and where to look. I also felt very welcomed to see boards in
our own language.” Regional governments and organizations have
also worked to promote local attractions. Gyeonggi-do Province and Gyeonggi Tourism
Organization have been inviting bloggers from southeast Asian countries this year to show
around the province that surrounds Korea’s capital. Bloggers from the Philippines, Taiwan and
Vietnam have participated in the program, and for the month of August, Thai bloggers
were invited. During their 5 day trip, the participants
visited tourist attractions and did hands-on activities like making their own coffee at
one of Korea’s top coffee manufacturing firms. (Thai)
“Korean brand coffees are very popular in Thailand,.. and to be able to have a tour
of how it’s produced, and even try it out myself, I think is a very special experience
that I’d like to recommend to others.” The participants also got to enjoy the view
of Suwon city,… from 130 meters above the ground in a helium balloon. (Thai)
“I’m actually very scared, but I’m trying to have fun.” (Korean)
“We’ve been looking at the posts that they uploaded during their stay here, and they’ve
already had loads of likes and shares. We are hoping this brings in more tourists
from these bloggers’ countries.” While tour experts say these efforts to diversify
the market are needed,… many say more needs to be done, such as making sure visitors enjoy
their stay, feel welcome, and want to revisit the country. (Korean)
“It’s important to create mutual understanding between the local community and tourists from
different cultures. Tours and tourists are no longer occasional
events, but something that will have to be dealt with in our everyday lives. And their peaceful coexistence needs more
thought and effort over the long-term.” Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.

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