Director Ahn Joon-ho of the Tourism and Sports Bureau of Seoul City Administration said the city will push the so called March 21 Measure, a tourism revival plan, to help the tourism industry recover from reductions in the number of Chinese tourist arrivals.
The industry has suffered after the Chinese government discourage its tourists from visiting Korea in the wake of the installation of the THAAD anti-missile system. The number of Chinese tourist arrivals fell by some 40 percent in March on-year to only 360,000.
An important goal of the March 21 Measure is to strengthen the campaign to attract the tourists from Southeast Asia.
Last year, the number of tourists from Southeast Asia increased by around 40 percent, and the number of Japanese tourists rose 25 percent. Officials cited Japan as the first country they will target in to fill the vacuum left by Chinese tourists.
The second move involves Mayor Park Won-soon touring a number of countries in the region to drum up interest in Korean tourism. He will visit Indonesia and Malaysia for tourism marketing events, with the Hallyu stars presenting performances. The marketing measures led by the mayor will also involve launching ads on local TV networks and operating public relations booths in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.
Seoul City is also helping tourism agents, who have had a hard time financing their businesses because of a lack of cash flow.
The city will provide the jobs for Chinese interpreters to continue to work in the tourism industry. The city plans to directly employ 200 of the interpreters.
Direcrtor Ahn said the city has been operating diverse programs and events to make up for reductions in foreign tourism arrivals in an effort minimize damage caused by Chinese government policies.
He also called for the addition of more foreign language tourism guide boards, including those in Thai and Myanmar languages, in those already in place in English, Japanese and Chinese. The city will add 200 foreign language tourist guides to focus on tourists from Thailand and Myanmar and other Southeast Asian countries.
Seoul Metropolitan City plans to beef up its tourism promotion programs this year, focused on the ancient city’s famous attractions, including palaces with tailor-made programs for families with children attending primary and middle schools.
The tour programs for renowned sites in the capital city, such as palaces and other historic sites, will be led by tour guides who can explain the stories associated with the historic sites, which are part of modern Korean history.
A scene from a meeting of the tourism industry and related Seoul City officials led by Mayor Park Won-soon to come up measures to deal with the recent fall in the number of Chinese tourist arrivals in the capital city.(Photos: Seoul Metropolitan Government)
The tour routes will include Deoksu Palace, Seoul Municipal Art Museum, Paejae Academy Historic Museum, Jungmyung-jon and the old Russian Consulate, all located in the heart of Seoul. (Reservations for the tours can be made at http://dobo.visitseoul.net.) The second course is designed for those in their 40s and 50s who want to recall the old Seoul.
The main subject of the tour program will be to tour the bookstores that handle rare, old, and interesting books located in the not-so-busy sections of the city. The bookstores include Alladin Old Book Store in Gangnam-gu; the Beautiful Store in Itaewon; Mr. Kong’s Bookstore; the Humor Mind Bookstore; the Hidden Bookstore; the Dae-o Bookstore cafe; and the Gagarin Bookstore, among others.
Harunadeuri Travel Agency handles the tour program, called “The exploration of a mythical culture inside Seoul.”
The third tour course is for those in their 50s who miss the 1970s and 1980s when they were in their 20s. The tour course is made of alleys in various old sections of Seoul linked like a spider web to remind of them of the younger years in their lives. They include The White Pine Lot in Dongui-dong; a hanok village of Korean-style traditional houses in Tongui-dong; the Tong-in Open Air Market in Tong-in-dong; the Yoon Family Residence in Okin-dong; and the Paewha Girls’ High School and Sajik Park. Hananadeuri Travel Agency will handle the tour called “An explorative tour of old alleys in Seoul.”