Gaining Strength in Tourism

Korea to host UNWTO general convention in Gyeongju from Oct. 8-14 with participants from 154 nations

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) said the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) will hold its 19th general assembly in Gyeongju, South Gyeongsang Province, from Oct. 8-14 this year.
Dir.-Gen. Cho Hyun-jae of the Tourism Industry Bureau, said about 1,500 participants from 154 member countries representing government, academia, the tourism industry and journalists are expected to be at the global meeting, which is the third important recent international meeting held in Korea after the G-20 Summit in Seoul in November 2010 and the T-20 Ministerial Meeting in Buyeo, South Chungcheong Province, in October 2010.
The MCST official went on to say that the UNWTO would certainly boost Korea¡¯s prestige as one of the foremost tourist destinations in the world after hosting the top world tourism event in Gyeongju this year. The event will be a vehicle for the Korean tourism industry to show off its Visit Korea Year tourism campaign to the world and a great help in attracting 10 million foreign tourists to Korea as targeted this year.
The UNWTO was launched in 1975 to develop the economy through tourism and increase international understanding to contribute to peace and prosperity in the world and was admitted as a United Nations organization in 2003. Korea will host the UN tourism organization for the second time this year following its co-hosting with Japan in 2001, the first country to do so in the world.
In the meantime, the UNWTO event will be a great help to Gyeongju¡¯s efforts to regain its glory as one of the most ancient cities in Korea with numerous ancient tourist sites as promoted by the Korea Tourism Organization and the MCST. Its Yangdong Village was named a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in August 2010.
With the KTX High-speed train stopping at the new Gyeongju Station now, tourists have been swarming to the city and the UNWTO event will firmly establish the ancient city as a world tourist landmark.
The UNWTO is headquartered in Madrid, Spain, and got its current name in 2005. It was known plainly as the WTO with its purpose being to promote economic development around the world through tourism and to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world and cooperate with professional UN organizations.
The UNWTO has 154 member countries including some full members, associate members and affiliate members and has relationships with 370 tourism related organizations and associations around the world.
The 18th UNWTO took place in Astana, Kazakhstan, in October 2009 and the 17th in November 2007, in Cartagena, Colombia. Seoul and Osaka co-hosted the UNWTO General Assembly in 2001 in which some 740 delegates including tourism ministers and vice ministers came from 78 countries.
In the meantime, the MCST designated 44 local festivals as representative festivals in Korea including the Gangjin Pottery Cultural Festival and the Jinju Gas Lantern Festival recently and 24 local festivals including the Hwacheon Sancheon Fish Festival and the Kimje Jipyeongson Festival for their potential to be developed as national festivals. The ministry will provide 6.7 billion won to support their further growth to be national festivals to display their local cultural traditions.
The designated festivals will receive support funds from the ministry based on their classes and consultations from the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) on holding performances and public relations events abroad.
The festivals designated ¡°representative¡± will receive 800 million won each in support funds, while those designated ¡°most excellent¡± will get 300 million won each and those designated ¡°excellent¡± will receive 150 million won each.
Other festivals put on the list include the Koryong Grand Kaya Festival; Gwangju Kimchi Festival; Gyeongju Rice Cake and Wide Festival; Kimhae Punchong Pottery Festival; Damyang Bamboo Festival; Busan Jakalchi (fish market) Festival; Ulsan Whale Festival; Jeju January Moon Festival; Taebaek Snow Festival; Pohang Light Beam Festival; and the Haewoondae Sand Festival, among others. Both the Andong Mask Festival and the Boryong Mud Festival, which were named representative festivals in Korea, will continue to get government support funds to be used in such areas as public relations and for their continuous development.

A scene of the 16th UNWTO Gen. Assembly held in Dakar, Senegal in Nov. 2005.

(Clockwise) A scene from the UNWTO General Assembly in Kazakhstan in 2009.; former Vice Minister Shim Jae-myun of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism shakes hands with Sec. Gen. Taleb Rifai of UNWTO at the 17th UNWTO General Assembly held in Astana, Kazakhstan in 2009.; Former Vice Minister Shim Jae-myun of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism makes a statement at the 17th UNWTO Gen. Assembly in Astana, Kazakhstan in 2009.

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