Over 10 Mln Foreign Tourist Arrival Projected

Sec.-Gen. Hong of Visit Korea Comm. calls Korea Grand Sale great success in attracting foreign tourists in off-season various events, K-Pop in particular


Hong Ju-min, secretary-general of the Visit Korea Committee, said the Korea Grand Sale tourism promotion campaign conducted by the Visit Korea Committee this year to attract foreign tourists during the off-season resulted in 34.5 billion won in sales, triple that of last year, with the number of participating shops, eateries and businesses up 62 percent. Various events in the campaign took place in diverse cities and locations across the country including Seoul, Busan and Jeju Island, where foreign tourists usually flock.
Hong, who received a master¡¯s degree in tourism management at the Tourism Graduate School of Kyunghee University in Seoul and has spent more than 33 years in the tourism industry, spoke with NewsWorld recently.
Following are excerpts from the interview:
Question: The results of the Korea Grand Sale, which was held during the first two months of this year, were wonderful. Can you tell us about some of the notable results from this event?
Answer: The Korea Grand Sale is an event held during the non-tourist season aimed at expanding the number of foreign tourists visiting Korea in an effort to expand tourism revenue and boost Korea¡¯s popularity as a global tourist destination. During the Korea Grand Sale, all kinds of events are provided in all areas, along with diverse incentives and events centered around performances, food, lodging, and shopping events at tourist sites around Korea.
The committee sponsored the tourism event from Jan. 9 to Feb. 29 at diverse locations in Korea including Seoul, Busan, Gangwon Province, North Jeolla Province, North Gyeongsang Province, and the Jeju Special Province, and other areas where foreign tourists usually gather, resulting in 34.5 billion won in sales, triple last year¡¯s figure.
An encouraging thing this year was that 77 firms and 22,867 shops and restaurants in 20 business sectors joined the event, up 62 percent from last year, showing a great improvement in the interest of related sectors in Korea, along with the understanding of the purpose of the event.
The event, held during a non-tourist season with all kinds of incentives for foreign tourists, has helped boost Korea as a popular tourism destination in the world and at the same time contributed to economic growth.
Q: What have been some of the tough matters the event had to overcome and points to be improved in the future to lure more civilian firms and shop operators to the event?
A: Last year, the committee organized the event for the first time. We visited department stores, duty free shops and companies to explain the event through meetings. What we tried to do was to give them some kind of pride in participating in the event through various public relations support activities. As a result, we had some companies that wanted to participate in the event after the closing deadline and some firms proposing to hold their own events for foreign tourists.
We tried to help the participating firms boost the image of their products and their brands in order to provide foreign tourists with high quality goods and services and increase the number of firms participating in the event voluntarily.
Although the number of firms and shops participating in the second year of the event was up, the Korea Grand Sale has a lot to do to be truly an attractive event for foreign tourists and to make contributions to the growth of foreign tourism in Korea. We will try to expand the discount rates, further expand the number of participating firms, and add more Korean-type entertainment events in the name of ¡°Hallyu.¡± We want to see the Korea Grand Sale become a representative event led by the private sector after 10 years in terms of quality and quantity. We hope that the participating firms would be regarded highly by foreign tourists by just participating in the event and their products regarded highly. We feel it is urgent to set up such events in popular international tourist destinations overseas like Singapore and Hong Kong.
Q: The committee is known to have been planning various tourism events to lure foreign tourists to Korea this year. Tell us about some of the key events.
A: This year in the last year of the Visit Korea Year 2010-2012 campaign. As we expected the number of foreign tourist arrivals in Korea this year would exceed 10 million and in order to attract 20 million foreign tourists in 2020, we have to take measures for balanced growth in terms of both quantity and quality. Recently, call vans and overcharging by taxis have become a large issue and we at the committee will try to improve the welcoming activity level for foreign tourists by consistently holding campaigns, especially in the areas of shopping, food, traffic, and various other services, which are key to attracting foreign tourists.
Last year, the committee provided training to some 37,000 employees of immigration offices, traffic, lodging, and tourist guiding after the selection of 10,000 exemplary restaurants across the country.
This year, the committee will provide support to eight local autonomous administrations including Seoul City, Busan, Daegu, Incheon, North Gyeongsang Province, North Jeolla Province, South Jeolla Province, and the Jeju Special Province in holding welcoming campaigns to improve tourism services around the country under the slogan ¡°Gladly Welcoming with Sincerity.¡±
The committee is scheduled to hold six special tourism events to feature local traditions in cooperation with a number of local administrations such as the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival in Changwon, North Gyeongsang Province; the Kukje Pyeonghwa Festival and Life Festival in Gangwon Province; the Hallyu Dream Festival in Gyeongju; and the Jeju Olle Walking Festival on Jeju Island.
Like we did last year, we will hold the K Pop Cover Dance Festival to take advantage of the popularity of K Pop around the world.

A tourist guide book for famous tourist sites for foreign tourists to visit in Korea made by the Visit Korea Committee.

Sec.-Gen. Hong Ju-min of the Visit Korea Committee.

Foreign tourists trying arrow shots at a palace ground in Seoul.

A group of foreign tourists chats at a tourist site in Insa-dong, Seoul.

A number of foreign tourists watch a fellow tourist playing with hula-hoops during the Boryeong Mud Festival in Korea. Photos on courtesy of the Visit Korea Committee.

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