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HomeUncategorizedFrom fireworks to snowflakes: South Korea's winter calendar appeals to international tourists

From fireworks to snowflakes: South Korea’s winter calendar appeals to international tourists

From a fireworks festival in Busan to snow-related activities in Gangwon, South Korea tourism has lined up a bouquet of events to woo foreign tourists this winter, as the sector is on a road to recovery after being badly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. A top official in the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) said their target is to have 10 million international arrivals by the end of 2023.

From fireworks to snowflakes: S Korea's winter calendar to woo foreign tourists(Unsplash/Nurulloh A.A)
From fireworks to snowflakes: S Korea’s winter calendar to woo foreign tourists(Unsplash/Nurulloh A.A)

“According to our official data, 6.5 million foreign tourists arrived in (South) Korea from January to August this year, and with a whole calendar of events and activities being hosted or planned to be held this winter, we are hopeful of reaching the target of 10 million,” Jongwong Park, director of International Cooperation Team at KTO, told PTI here.

Park recently visited India along with a few other KTO officials to take part in the 46th edition of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Travel Mart that was hosted at Pragati Maidan in Delhi from October 4 to 6. The physical version of the PATA Travel Mart was held after a hiatus of three years due to the pandemic.

KTO, the main tourism body which functions under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea, also showcased a beautiful ‘Korea Pavilion’ to attract visitors. The design of the pavilion drew elements from architectural features of traditional Korean houses — ‘hanok’, temples and other old structures. Park said 2023-2024 is being celebrated as ‘Visit Korea Year’ and his home country is encouraging foreigners to “come to Korea”.

“We have made a calendar of 100 events, for 2023 spilling over to 2024, spread across the country over different seasons. In Korea, we get a large number of tourists in the winter season. So, a lot of ice-related and snow-related activities such as skiing, and mountaineering activities have been lined up,” he said. The tourism sector in South Korea and the Asia Pacific region in general is recovering from the massive impact of the pandemic and that will in turn, hopefully, bring more tourists to South Korea and elsewhere in the region, the KTO official said.

The calendar of events — ‘K-Culture Travel Events 100’ — also mentions the Gangwon 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games slated to begin from January 19. On October 11, a grand ceremony was held in Seoul to mark the 100-day countdown to what will be Asia’s first winter YOG. The KTO calendar includes a snow festival in Gangwon Province from November to April 2024. The ‘Gangwon Snow Festa’ will attract snow lovers, and winter travellers and the Winter Youth Olympic Games is expected to bring in more tourists as well, the officials said.

Other key events on the 100-event calendar include Incheon Open Port Culture Night from October 21-22. According to the events schedule, it was also held from August 26-27. In November, Busan city will host a dazzling festival — Busan Fireworks Festival — which will be held in the area around Gwangalli Beach. “Fireworks festival and ice-related activities which will also include illumination of a set of structures made of snow which tourists visit during winter are expected to draw a lot of foreigners this year after a gloomy phase since the outbreak of the pandemic,” Park said.

According to KTO officials, 17.5 million foreign tourists visited South Korea in 2019, which slumped to 2.5 million in 2020, and plummeted to 0.96 million in 2021, when the world witnessed one of the deadliest phases of the pandemic, the worst since the 1918 Spanish Flu. They said the figures for the year 2022 for South Korea stood at 3.2 million, and during the January-August period, 6.5 million foreign tourists arrived in South Korea, “so, it is on the recovery trajectory”.

China is one of the main source countries from where South Korea gets foreign tourists, and the pandemic severely impacted that due to prolonged travel restrictions by the Chinese government, the officials said. South Korea also gets foreign tourists from Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, and Thailand, besides countries in the West, among others, they said.

K-pop, K-drama, and K-beauty products among other factors have contributed to people choosing South Korea as a travel destination, say tourism trends watchers. However, foreign travel restrictions and a general fear among people to travel abroad, led to a “boost in domestic tourism” in South Korea and Koreans travelled a lot from one part of the country to another, Park said.

He said the South Korea tourism calendar has a diverse range of activities to choose from till the end of this year, and next year’s calendar will be made based on the tourist footfall that will be registered by the end of 2023.

Daejeon Science Festival will be hosted from October 19-22 and Daejeon Bakery Festival from October 28-29. Among the events already hosted this year, include the Jarasum Jazz Festival earlier in October and the Jeungpyeong Ginseng Village Festival which is scheduled to end on October 15.

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This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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