Many flights between Korea and China have been canceled recently, as Chinese tourists are reluctant to come to Korea for fear of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Instead many tourists are choosing Japan for their destination on the back of the weak yen and an aggressive Japanese government campaign targeting them.
Under the circumstances, SK Group is making every effort to overcome the nation’s sluggish economy, and, in particular, the difficulties of the tourism industry hit hardest from the epidemic.
SK Group executives, including Moon Jong-hoon, CEO of SK Networks and Kim Young-gwang, executive vice president SK Group's Global Growth Committee, are set to launch a “Korea Sale” campaign in China to help attract more visitors from the mainland to prop up the country's tourism industry, shrunk from the epidemic.
Korea's third-largest business group executive had a series of meetings on July 6 with CEO Yao Xaomin of the People's Daily Overseas Edition and senior executives from Baidu, China's largest web portal.
SK executives asked the People's Daily to run favorable stories about Korea as a tourist destination, and Baidu to post more positive messages about the nation.
“Korean health authorities have been successfully containing further outbreaks of MERS in cooperation with the medical community and the public. Things are beginning to return to normal,” Moon told the daily's senior managers. “The travel industry has also been making all the necessary preparations to ensure the safety of foreign tourists. Korea needs Chinese media and web portals to tell the public that it is safe to travel to Korea,” he added.
CEO Moon added, “The SK Group has been making every effort to improve relations between Korea and China over the years,” reminding them that “In 2008 when the strong earthquake struck Sichuan Province, SK Chairman Chey Tae-won visited the quake-damaged province and led a rescue mission, when most foreign companies evacuated from the area.”
In response, Xaomin said the newspaper will do its part to boost exchanges between the private sectors of the two countries.
Also, at home, the SK Group has been carrying out a wide range of activities to help overcome sluggish domestic consumption since the MERS outbreak.
In particular, the group launched a blood donation campaign, as hospitals face difficulties in securing enough blood as people were reluctant to go to medical institutions for fear of MERS confections. If SK employees donate blood, they receive a gift certificate worth 100,000 won (US$88.47), which can be used at traditional markets to boost consumption.