SEOUL (The Korea Herald/ANN): South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is going all out to make the country another Asian tourism powerhouse and create a more enjoyable tourism environment for domestic holidaymakers.
In a press briefing in Seoul on Dec 8, Second Vice-Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Jang Mi-ran expressed high hopes to turn South Korea into an appealing destination for both foreigners and locals, and exceed pre-pandemic visitor levels in 2024.
“I engaged in various tourism-related meetings with local governments, agencies and firms to gather perspectives from industry professionals, but there were not a lot of unique or special tourism products or festivals,” Ms Jang said in a briefing at the Seoul Government Complex in Jongno-gu, central Seoul.
“It is important to create tourism products that are appealing to locals and approved by them. We are recommending or introducing things if we like them first. I personally feel this applies to tourism as well,” the Vice-Minister told The Korea Herald.
Ms Jang said tourism major students who share their individual travel experiences on various social media platforms can offer realistic suggestions and showcase the charms of their home towns, as well as areas of improvement. She added that she wanted to spend more time with such students to understand the local tourism landscape.
She also emphasised the importance of creating a safer tourism environment for global and domestic visitors.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is set to organise a public participatory inspection team to root out rip-offs and discriminatory pricing. A separate team will be launched to deal with such cases and assist visitors who file complaints.
The ministry has decided to increase the number of K-tourism roadshows – which are promotional events held overseas to showcase South Korea’s traditional and contemporary cultures – from 15 to 25 in 2024.
Chinese tourists will continue to be exempt from visa fees. This was temporarily applied to Chinese travellers from September to December, and will be extended to 2024. Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia will be included in the list of exempt countries.
According to Ms Jang, travel-friendly services – such as a foreigner-exclusive mobile app for train, bus and taxi services, and an English-language navigation app – will be made available in 2024.
To quench tourists’ thirst for Korean content-related events, beauty festivals, K-pop shows, food fairs, e-sports experiences and medical tourism packages, as well as meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions tourism packages, will be expanded as well.
“We hope to attract 20 million global visitors to Korea in 2024, and exceed the pre-pandemic number of foreign travellers from 2019. We will also make the utmost effort to collaborate with local governments and tourism-related firms to support mass tourism,” she said.
In 2022, South Korea welcomed approximately 3.2 million inbound visitors, according to the Korea Tourism Organisation. Just before the Covid-19 pandemic, the country had a record 17.5 million inbound tourists in 2019. - THE KOREA HERALD/ASIAN NEWS NETWORK