The Korean Tourist Organization has exciting news for those travelling to Korea
KTO is presenting 24 companies including local travel agencies, local government and regional tourism organisations at ITB Berlin 2023
Korea is promoting the country’s “100 K-Culture Tourism Events” to entice more visitors in 2023 and 2024. We found out more about what to expect in an exclusive interview with KTO’s Senior Vice President James Lee ( Ph.D) at ITB Berlin.
What are you presenting at ITB Berlin this year?
This year we are promoting tourism in Korea with the “Visit Korea Year 2023-24”. One of our first projects is “100 K-Culture Tourism Events” where we invite travellers to join festivals and events throughout the year. We also want to support Busan applications for the 2030 EXPO which will be decided at the end of this year. And, since we want to highlight the possibilities Korea has to offer outside of the metropolises of Seoul and Busan, we especially invited several regional tourism organisations. They will present their famous tourist spots and cultural specialties to the B2B visitors at ITB Berlin. In total we have 24 co-exhibitors from Korea to connect with.
Furthermore, visitors can enjoy the diversity of Korea with its special mix of tradition and modernity. There are traditional experiences, but also interactive screens with games and VR. As a “special guest”, we have a guide robot like those at Incheon Airport or other places in Korea which can also be used as a photo booth!
What are your predictions for 2023 and how do you see the industry evolving?
Korea is already famous for its pop culture and high tech gadgets. Among others, K-Pop and K-Dramas have become popular around the world in recent years and fans want to visit the places they see in person. Since the hurdles to travel to Korea have been lifted in October 2022, we have already seen a rise in visitors.
Our goal now is to promote Korea as an easily accessible travel destination and quickly get back to and even exceed our 2019 visitor numbers. Since interest in long-haul destinations is also returning, we expect a significant increase in visitors to Korea in 2023, especially by FIT travellers. To boost visitors from the German speaking region for example, our Frankfurt office has chosen topics to promote which are especially interesting for such travellers.
Throughout the year, they will have promotions and activities presenting Korea as an outdoor destination with the possibility for road trips and participation in temple stay programs, experiences for gourmet travellers and also the potential for city trips including K-Wave highlights.
How did the Korean tourism industry perform in 2022?
In 2019, the year before the pandemic, we had 17.5 million visitors to Korea which was a new record year for Korean tourism. Due to Covid and travel restrictions, we only had 967,000 visitors in 2021. With the loosening the restrictions like mandate quarantine and PCR testing in 2022, we already saw a rise in visitors and gained about 230% compared to the year prior, with about 3.2 million travelling to Korea. So I think we are on a good way to restart Korean tourism.