The Visit Korea Year Committee has prepared many things to watch, enjoy and participate in, offering various incentive programs for foreign tourists to Korea, such as One More Night Promotion, operation of free shuttle buses, the Korea Grand Sale, etc,. BusinessKorea interviewed with Han Kyung-ah, Executive Director of Marketing Division at the committee, to hear about the background and results of the campaign and the future plans. Followings are excerpts from the interview with her.
What are the background and purpose of the Visit Korea Year 2010-2012 Campaign?
Competition among nations to promote their tourism industry is getting fiercer with the tourism industry emerging as a good tool to enhance the national image and strengthen national competitiveness. The Korean government selected the Visit Korea program as a national project in a presidential meeting on the tourism industry on March 28, 2008 as the nation needs to promote its tourism industry. Therefore, the 2010 to 2012 period was officially designated as the Visit Korea Year. The government plans to enhance people’s awareness of the Korean tourism industry by promoting the participation of people. In addition, the government aims at strengthening Korea’s tourist competitiveness by maximizing synergies out of mega events such as the IAAF World Championships Daegu 2011 and 2012 Yeosu EXPO and by improving the tourism infrastructure of Korea.
What roles do you play as a marketing director of the Visit Korea Year Committee?
The Visit Korea Year program focuses on differentiated themes and special events, domestic and international marketing communication to elevate the image of Korean tours, a campaign to welcome foreign tourists to Korea and special incentive programs to attract more foreign tourists. First, seven major special events will welcome foreign tourists. They include the Gyeongju Hallyu Dream Festival, the Busan International Fireworks Festival, the Jeonju Korean Food Festival, and the Jeju Olle Walking Festival. The Visit Korea Year Committee will strengthen regional tourist competitiveness and attract more foreign tourists as well as promote Korea as an attractive destination along with development of high-class and long-stay tourist packages.
Secondly, the committee will send a Korean tourism promotion delegation to major markets such as China and Japan, and regularly hold Korean tourism promotion events through Korea National Tourism Organization. Moreover, the biggest inbound travel mart in Korea will be held with the participation of foreign travel marketers from around the world. Thirdly, the committee is in the midst of holding a pan-national campaign to welcome foreign tourists to Korea by running a wide array of programs to promote the participation of Korean people. The programs include education of employees in the Korean tourism industry, global etiquette equation of elementary and middle school students, and selection of college student and adults as goodwill ambassadors of Korean tourism to foreign tourists. Finally, we will prepare various incentive programs for foreign tourists to Korea during these terms.
Would you elaborate on results of the campaign up to now?
In 2010, 8.8 million foreign tourists visited Korea compared to the original target of 8.5 million people. The Visit Korea Year Project is evaluated in terms of two sides. One is economic effects and the other is to enhance Korea’s image among foreign tourists. A hospitality campaign led by Actress Choi Ji-woo and Violinist Yongjae O’Neal with the participation of college students is playing a key role in impressing foreign tourists positively about Korea. In addition, hospitality education of employees in the tourism industry and etiquette education of students are paving the way for Korea to give good impressions to foreign tourists in the long term.
What benefits can foreign tourists enjoy during the 2010-2012 Visit Korea Year campaign? How have you informed foreign tourists of these special benefits?
Our committee has prepared many things to watch, enjoy and participate in. Moreover, we offer various incentive programs for foreign tourists to Korea. One More Night Promotion enables foreign tourists to stay for more than 3 nights with an extra free night’s stay. At the moment, 36 world-class hotels across the nation are joining this program. The committee will increase the number of hotels to 50 this year. Another program is to run the free shuttle bus for foreign tourists only. So tourists can travel between provincial cities through this service. The service covers the cities including Seoul, Gyeongju, Jeonju and Busan. During January and February next year, we will also conduct the Korea Grand Sale, a nationwide shopping extravaganza designed to help foreign tourists enjoy their Korea shopping experience to the fullest. They will be able to enjoy special product discounts, free admission to leading attractions, and even free gifts! About 13,000 companies and organizations are participating, including many of luxury brands. We are also holding welcome programs at airports to offer various gifts and benefits. In addition, we are striving to give nice images of Korea to foreigners who are interested in Korea and the Visit Korea Year through our home page (www.visitkoreayear.com) and SNS such as FaceBook and twitters.
Would you tell us about special plans to attract foreign tourists to Korea in the second half of this year?
We will hold road shows on Korean tourism not only in Japan, China and Southeast Asia but also in Europe and the U.S., and send delegations in cooperation with local governments and the Korean tourism industry. We are holding the KITM, Korea°Øs biggest inbound travel mart, with the participation of 160 reporters and media people from about ten countries between June 1 and 5.