The Korea Herald/Asia News Network
The goal is to attract 3.6 million tourists from Southeast Asia, 2.5 million from the Americas and Europe by the end of the year. (Shutterstock/File)
Korea will step up efforts to attract more tourists from Southeast Asia, the Americas and Europe, the state-run tourism agency said Monday.
Unveiling the projects for 2017, the Korea Tourism Organization said it aims to diversify the country‘s tourism market, which is largely dependent on neighboring China and Japan.
The goal is to attract 3.6 million tourists from Southeast Asia, 2.5 million from the Americas and Europe by the end of the year. The group aims to surpass 20 million foreign tourists for the first time this year.
“Up to 60 percent of tourists visiting Korea are currently from China and Japan, but we have seen a considerable surge from Southeast Asia. By diversifying the markets, we seek to surpass the 20 million mark,” said KTO President Jung Chang-soo.
According to the agency, the number of tourists from six countries -- Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia -- and Hong Kong totaled more than 200,000 last year.
In addition, the KTO said it will boost efforts to attract more Muslim tourists by catering to their needs, such as building Muslim prayer rooms at public organizations.
While there has been concern that last year’s decision by the Korea-US alliance to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system here would trigger a drop in the number of Chinese tourists to Korea, as the Chinese government is opposed to the deployment, the KTO said that an on-year comparison shows the actual number of Chinese tourists has not dropped. The figure for the October-December period -- after the announcement was made -- actually shows a slight increase, it noted.
Jung said the agency is shifting its strategy to focus more attention on individual tourists from China as part of its goal to attract 8.3 million Chinese tourists.
The KTO also announced a plan to launch a mobile platform that will allow tourists easy access to its online information and applications by the second half of 2017.