BusinessKorea held an interview with Sonia Hong, the Secretary-General of the 2010-2012 Visit Korea Year Committee.
Q: Please introduce the 2010-2012 Visit Korea Year Committee.
A: The committee works to strategically promote Korea’s brand name in the international market and to improve Korea’s tourism industry, so that our goal of bringing in 10 million foreign tourists per year, and generating US$13 billion in tourism revenue, thus establishing Korea as one of the top 20 tourist destinations in the world will come true. Kim Yoon-ok, the First Lady, is serving as the honorary chairlady of the committee and the famous actor, Bae Yong-jun and the top figure skater, Kim Yu-na are the PR ambassadors.
Q: What is the background behind declaring the years 2010-2012 as the Visit Korea Year?
A: As tourism has been rising as a new and effective means to enhance the national brand image and strengthen national competitiveness, competition among nations to dominate the global tourism market is becoming fierce. It was evitable that we would declare 2010-2012 as the Visit Korea Year due to an increase in tourism revenue deficit and in order to strengthen the competitiveness of our tourism industry. At the “Tourism Industry Competitiveness Strengthening Meeting” presided by the President on March 28, 2008, the Visit Korea Year project was designated a national grand scheme.
Q: Visit Korea Year has been promoted in the past. How is 2010-2012 Visit Korea Year different from the ones promoted in the past?
A: The committee is focusing on proliferating awareness of the project both domestically and internationally, as well as improving the status of the Korea as an international destination. We are also planning to promote a new project in collaboration with the tourism, political and business/financial industries. In the past, Visit Korea Year projects were mostly short-term events, but 2010-2012 Visit Korea Year is designed and strategically planned based on a long-term vision and goals.
Q: What will the first cultural events of 2010 be as part of the 2010-2012 V.K.Y.?
A: We have already conducted Welcoming Events for foreign tourists and will continue to promote various events to increase awareness among. We conducted welcoming events at both Incheon and Gimpo International Airports, greeting visitors with flower bouquets and welcoming kits. We’ve installed information and PR booths at famous tour spots throughout Korea, such as Haeundae Beach in Busan, Homigot in Pohang, Jeongdongjin in Gangneung and Boshingak where Koreans ring out the old year on New Year’s Eve, in order to promote 2010-2012 V.K.Y.
Q: The V.K.Y. will last for three years. Please tell us about any distinguished cultural events planned for each year.
A: Each year will differ according to the year’s main events, such as World Design Capital Seoul 2010, IAAF World Championships Daegu 2011 and 2012 Yeosu Expo. Focusing on Japan and China, the main markets of Korean tourism, we will dispatch special marketing and sales promotion teams to attract more visitors as well as host regular business presentation meetings at overseas branch offices of the Korea Tourism Organization in order to directly contact potential tourists.
Q: Is there anything that you would like to tell or ask the general public in regards to 2010-2012 V.K.Y.?
A: I hope that it will be a good opportunity for Korea to further progress as a powerful nation in the world’s tourism industry. And just like our slogan “Offer the best of Korea with your smile,” your smile and warm hospitality are the biggest gifts that you can give to visitors.