Korea Grand Sale
2012 Slated for Jan. 9-Feb. 29

The 2010-2012 Visit Korea Year Committee will likely advance its goal of attracting 10 million international visitors

Inbound foreign tourists are forecast to hit 9.8 million during this year, surpassing Korea's goal of attracting 9.6 million foreigners, and inbound visitors next year - the third and last year of the 2010-2012 Visit Korea Years - are likely to top 11 million, surpassing the initial target of 10 million, said Hong Ju-min, secretary general of the 2010-2012 Visit Korea Year Committee.
Hong made the remark while explaining the achievements the Committee has made since its inauguration.
The 2010-2012 Visit Korea Year Committee has played a part in proliferating Hallyu by supporting the K-pop SM Town World Tour performance in Paris, which received rave reviews, and organized Korea's first K-pop cover dance festival whose final round took place in Gyeongju, he said.
Hong said his committee explored high-class must-see routes in celebration of the Visit Korea Years, including Seoul, with a combination of the past and the modern and brand shopping streets; Jeju, caring for body and mind; Busan, a dynamic port city; Gyeongju, a living & breathing historical museum; and Andong, with the roots of Korean spirit and heart. To name a few of the things foreign visitors to Korea love to visit, he said, Singaporean visitors favor the traditional Korea seonbi (Confucian scholars) village in Sangju, Japanese love trekking on Mt. Dobong, and Indians prefer temple stays.
The committee gave a hand in helping local governments boost their respective tourism industries by hosting special events such as the Hallyu Dream Festival, taking place in Gyeongju in early October; the Busan Fireworks Festival in the port city in mid-October; the Korea Food Festival in Jeonju in mid-October; and the Jeju Olle Walking Festival in early November, he said. The events attracted an estimated 34,000 foreign visitors to the provincial areas, according to the secretary general.
Hong said his committee conducted a drive to provide hospitality to foreigners in provincial areas, passing out booklets on hygiene and services and foreign language menus, as Korea has an increasing number of multicultural families.
The committee provides free shuttle buses plying the routes from Seoul to Busan and Jeonju every day except Mondays in the interests of international tourists.
Hong noted that the existing projects his committee has implemented need to be retained after the 2010-2012 Visit Korea Year.
The Korea Grand Sale is not just a shopping event with discounts like counterparts in Hong Kong and Singapore and others, but an opportunity to taste and share Korea's culture and sensitivities, he said. The following are the excerpts of an interview between NewsWorld and Sec. Gen. Hong, in which he spoke of the details of the upcoming sale.
Question: Will you introduce our readers to the Korea Grand Sale 2012?
Answer: The Korea Grand Sale is Korea's biggest-ever nationwide shopping extravaganza, catering to the needs of foreign tourists, being organized by the 2010-2012 Visit Korea Year Committee. Roughly 21,800 outlets belonging to 77 firms in 20 business arenas, including shopping, lodging, food & beverages, and performance in the Seoul metropolitan area and other parts of the nation will participate in the event.
The Korea Grand Sale is not just a shopping event with discounts like counterparts in Hong Kong and Singapore and others, but an opportunity to taste and share Korea's culture and sensitivities: experiencing Hallyu (Korean Wave) contents as well as supporting charity events for multicultural families.
Q: What benefits will the Korea Grand Sale 2012 bring about?
A: Shopping firms participating in the previous event saw their sales surging about 30 percent during the same period. This may be construed as the Grand Sale's positive influence on not only attracting international visitors during the low season, but also boosting the local retail industry.
A total of 14,053 outlets from 57 firms in 22 business areas participated in the Korea Grand Sale 2011 and posted 12.1 billion won in turnover. Inbound tourists amounted to 1.25 million during January and February 2011, representing a 3.7 percent rise over the same period of last year, while foreign currency earnings amounted to $1.75 billion, a 23.6 percent jump. The Grand Sale, which also had a production induction effect of about 20 billion won, could have had a positive impact on the tourism sector and the national economy.
Foreign tourists focused on large-size outlets and brands in going shopping and touring, and tended to favor such places with no communication barriers. It is significant that this has served as opportunities for prompting SMEs to come up with steps to ramp up competitiveness by renewing interior designs and hiring staff capable of speaking foreign languages and offering products tailored to meet foreigners'stastes.
Q: What about the participants of the Korea Grand Sale 2012?
A: About 21,800 outlets from 77 firms in 20 areas, including shopping, lodging, food & beverage, and performance, will participate in the upcoming event. The big 20 large-size retailers were asked to join the event on a voluntary basis. The selection committee of the 2010-2012 Visit Korea Year Committee has examined applicants through objective and subjective evaluation categories and approved them if no significant flaws were found. The committee also approved the establishments recommended by local governments after conducting an on-site observation.
We launched overseas activities to publicize the Korea Grand Sale 2012 last October. Korea Tourism Organization (KTO)s overseas branches are utilized so that foreign tourists get a prior understanding of the Korea Grand Sale 2012 and the global standing of the upcoming event may be ramped up. Brochures, leaflets, discount cards and other publications on the sale and news releases have already been distributed to the KTO branches. Each branch has doled out publication materials to major local tourism agencies and posted news releases on its own website.
Publications on the Korea Grand Sale 2012 have been distributed to foreign ticket buyers from major overseas branches of the Korean flag-carriers Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, articles publicizing the event are carried in magazines being circulated overseas, and online advertisements targeting Chinese, Japanese, and Southeast Asian markets have been posted.
An opening event in which Hallyu contents can be experienced will be held for foreign arrivals during the sale period, while events and lotteries will be held in major shopping areas. Direct mails on the upcoming sale have been sent to VISA card members and a joint event for the promotion of the sale gets under way on the VISA website.
Q: Will you explain plans prior to the Korea Grand Sale 2012?
A: Our committee will put forward the fullest efforts to offer education to the staffs of the participants and outlets recommended by local governments on top of making guide manuals. Online events get under way on the website of the Korea Grand Sale 2012, while prior preparations, including the production of mobile homepages, are being made. A call center will be operated during the sale period for the convenience of international visitors, and consistent monitoring of outlets will be made to minimize foreign visitors' inconveniences.
Publications on arches and street banners have been installed to publicize the opening ceremony of the Korea Grand Sale 2012 and other events in Seoul, Busan, Jeju, North Gyeongsang Province, Gangwon Province, and others, while posters and leaflets on the sale have been distributed to major tourism information centers and participating companies.
Q: What countries are expected to aggressively participate in the upcoming sale?
A: We're conducting publicity and marketing activities targeting Japan and China. Japanese tourists tend to prefer overseas trips to traveling in their own country in the wake of the latest nuclear accident in Japan, and particularly, Japanese favor tours to Korea due to the short distance and the influences of Hallyu. Chinese are more likely to opt to travel overseas thanks to rising incomes, and overseas trips by Chinese are forecast to surge during the Chinese Spring Festival (Chinese New Year's Holiday), which coincides with the Korea Grand Sale 2012. nw

(left) Secretary General Hong Ju-min of the 2010-2012 Visit Korea Year Committee, explains the details of the upcoming Korea Grand Sale. A scene of the Jeju Olle Walking Festival.

Photos on courtesy of KITA, Photos by NewsWorld

(from top) A scene of the 2011 Korea Food Festival,; Foreigners wait for the arrival of a shuttle bus to take them to Busan,; and A scene of the Jeju Olle Walking Festival.

(clockwise, from left) Secretary General Hong of the 2010-2012 Visit Korea Year Committee,; A scene of Korea's first K-pop cover dance festival in Gyeongju, and A scene of the 2011 Korea Food Festival.

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