Director, Korea Tourism Organisation When the LIDO goes bigger
Rebranding Korea as leisure destination
Although ranked as the third best destination for MICE, Korea struggles to be a hit amongst the families and honeymooners looking for leisure. Initiatives such as ‘Imagine Your Korea’ is set to overcome such challenges, says Byugnsun Lee.
Korea, with its beautiful landscape and rich history, is an attractive tourism destination. How has been the journey so far? How was 2014 in terms of business?
I must say that the year 2014 had been a successful year for Korea Tourism Organisation in India. We organised five roadshows, participated in trade exhibitions, organised FAM trips for media and travel agents and launched many packages in India that could potentially lead to tourism growth from India. To educate Indian travellers we run massive media campaigns in leading newspapers and travel magazines; and online activities through our Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) India Facebook page.
To woo the Bollywood and Tollywood Industry, we participated in International Film Bazaar during International Film Festival in Goa. I met with many Indian producers and directors during International Film Bazaar and I am very confident that there will be a series of Indian film shootings in Korea next year.
KTO has been very active in promoting MICE tourism in the Indian market. In year 2014, the marketing initiatives involved organising incentive Roadshows; participation in top MICE travel marts such at MILT, IT&CM, IBTM and MTM and organising FAM trip for Indian corporate.
Where does India stand as a source market for you and what kind of potential do you see here? What are your strategies for Indian market?
India is one of the most important market to us as Indian outbound travellers have recorded an average growth rate of 10 per cent for the past 5-6 years and is predicted to touch 50 million outbound travellers, according to UNWTO, by 2020. Korea is an untapped holiday destination for the Indian market and hence there is a sense of curiosity in the minds of Indian travellers. We are set to promote Korea as niche destination for leisure and MICE.
What does Korea offer to Indian tourists? Which segments of the Indian outbound market do you currently attract and what segments are you looking to tap?
Our focus is to promote Gangwondo and Gyeonggi Province during the first quarter as both the places offers beautiful world famous skiing resorts. We have launched packages for families, honeymooners and adventure tourists with tour operators such as TUI, Thomas Cook and Ezeego. Tourists can enjoy not only skiing but also take pleasure in a variety of ski related facilities such as Gondola, snow sculpture village, snow sled and other snow activities.
Also, Mt Hallasan is home to a variety of flora and fauna in Jeju Island and it is designated as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage, a UNESCO Global Geopark, and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Winter brings forth a view of vast snowfields with crystal-like flowers of ice formations growing on withered old trees and a sea of clouds in the sky. The Mt Hallasan Winter Event, held during December and January every year, offers visitors an array of activities such as snow sledding, skiing, photo taking zones and cultural games. Shuttle buses are available for tourists between downtown and the event venue making it convenient to visit. This festival is organised by Jeju Tourism Organization and we have launched the package for Mt Hallasan Festival along with other attraction in Jeju Island with Mumbai based tour operator Mercury Travels.
For rest of the year we will be bringing attractive packages combining Seoul, Jeju Island and Busan.
In the recent Road Show, you also promoted MICE Tourism in Korea. What is it that you offer and where do you stand as a MICE destination for Indian corporates?
Korea is currently ranked third best MICE country in the world and offers a unique blend of natural beauty, ancient culture, modern infrastructure and futuristic technology. All the combinations are complemented with tourist attractions and unlimited entertainment opportunities which makes it a perfect MICE destination. We are promoting Seoul, Busan and Jeju Island that offer world class MICE facilities and activities along with the availability of Indian Food. Korea is also popular for its Temple Stay programs and traditional team-building programs that are unique experiences for MICE groups.
How is the connectivity between India and Korea?
Korea is very well connected from India through direct flights such as Asiana Airline Ex-Delhi, flying three times in a week; and Korean Air Ex- Mumbai, flying three times per week. Air India flies Ex –Delhi three times per week via Hong Kong. There are daily flights by Cathay Pacific Ex-Delhi/ Mumbai/Chennai/Hyderabad/Kolkata/ Bangalore via Hong Kong. Also, there is a daily flight by China Eastern Ex- Delhi via Shanghai. Aditionally, there are other carriers via Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Hong Kong.
What are your objectives and targets for the year 2015?
Korea Tourism Organization is aiming for higher growth in terms of Indian travellers. We are hoping to start with big movement from Indian families, Honeymooners, young groups, FITs and MICE in 2015 and targeting 25 per cent growth to cross 181,000 in the year 2015.
What are the challenges that you face in promoting Korea as tourism destination in India?
The majority of Indian traffic to Korea today come from business while Indian families and honeymooners are yet to consider Korea as a family destination which is the biggest challenge. Our aim is change their perception through our new brand ‘Imagine Your Korea’ as leisure as well as MICE destination and we have been receiving a very positive response from Indian market.