The number of foreign tourists who visited Seoul in 2016 exceeded 13.5 million. It is the largest ever, increased by 18.8% from the 11.42 million in 2014, and 30.3% from the 10.41 million in 2015. Based on these achievements, the Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to attract 17 million tourists to visit Seoul from abroad in 2017 and, by doing so, secure 606,000 jobs in the related industries.
Seoul, which is a major city visited by 78.7% of the total number of tourists visiting Korea, has set the top five priority projects in 2017: 1) promote the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and attract visitors to Seoul; 2) carry out tailor-made marketing for each target market; 3) derive fair tourism models; 4) strengthen tourism infrastructure to accommodate 20 million tourists; and 5) establish the Seoul Tourism Promotion Foundation.
First, Seoul is leading the boom of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, a huge global event. The host city of Olympic game is Pyeongchang, but the SMG plans to attract tourists visiting Pyeongchang to Seoul by promoting the attractions of Seoul.
Starting from the opening ceremony of the G-1 countdown clock tower at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games held on February 8th, 2017 in Seoul Square, a mini-venue will be installed and winter sports events and related Korean Wave concerts will be promoted. The city also plans to launch a “special tourist pass” (3-day pass, 5-day pass) in October 2017, linking major tourist facilities in Seoul and Pyeongchang, including the National Palace, the N Seoul tower, the Pyeongchang Sheep Ranch and the Olympic Games. During the Winter Olympics, there will also be a 20% discount event for sightseeing pass (currently so called “Discover Seoul Pass”), which allows visitors to Seoul to visit 16 major tourist facilities in Seoul.
Second, the SMG will carry out various tourism marketing activities for major overseas strategic markets and emerging markets. To this end, it will invest a total of 16.2 billion won in overseas tourism marketing including on-line and off-line marketing.
As for Chinese tourists, which account for 46.8% of the tourists visiting Seoul, Seoul will concentrate its promotion on Chinese individual tourists called ‘Sanker’ (59.1% of all Chinese tourists). Seoul will increase the proportion of tourism marketing targeting Chinese individual tourists. In addition, in cooperation with the Japanese travel associations and large travel agencies, Seoul will develop travel products for visiting new tourist attractions such as ‘Seoullo 7017’ and ‘Seoul City Wall’ in order to continuously attract Japanese tourists with high revisitation rate and plans to promote “Fam Tour” products linking Seoul and Pyeongchang. In addition, Seoul will expand the scope of tourism marketing activities to the Middle East, Europe, and America in order to improve the market structure concentrated in China and Japan.
Third, “Seoul International Fair & Sustainable Tourism Forum” was held jointly with UNWTO in September 2016 . As the residential areas become tourist attractions, the city will prevent the “Touristification (tourism plus gentrification)” phenomenon where local residents suffer damage and are forced to leave to other regions, and plans to create a model of fair tourism in Seoul by creating a virtuous circle structure in which the profits from the increase of tourists return to the residents.
In addition, the city will lay the foundation for 20 million-tourist cities. Also, the “Seoul Tourism Promotion Foundation” will be launched. Further, it will strengthen policy efforts such as providing barrier-free tourist information and developing tourism products in order to guarantee the universal right to enjoy tourism experiences for people with less opportunity to have such experiences, like people with disabilities.