“Promoting Alternative Accommodations” for Korean and Foreign Tourists in the Summer Peak Months of June and July
The Seoul Metropolitan Government has designated the summer peak months of June and July as months in which to promote alternative accommodation for foreign tourists. The promotion focuses mainly on homestays, in which locals rent out spare rooms to tourists, and hanokstays, in which people can experience living in hanok, traditional Korean houses. As part of its promotional campaign, which aims to increase the number of these businesses to a total of 700 citywide, the city government will be holding business information sessions and providing other types of support.
Currently (as of May 2014), there are 473 registered urban homestay businesses (a business model established in 2012) and 79 hanokstay business (established in 2009), making for a total of 552 businesses registered in Seoul. These business models were originally adopted as a way to address the shortage of accommodations caused by the ever-increasing number of foreign tourists and to create jobs for retirees.
Definition of Homestay and Hanokstay
※Urban Homestay Business for Foreign Tourists：“A business open to foreign tourists that operates lodging and meal facilities within residential housing, allowing foreign tourists to experience Korean family culture.” (Enforcement Decree of the Tourism Promotion Act, Article 2). Only open to foreigners.
※Hanokstay Business：“A business that provides lodging in hanok (traditional Korean wooden buildings/facilities characterized by unique Korean aesthetics and equipped with Korean amenities), allowing tourists to experience traditional Korean culture.” (Enforcement Decree of the Tourism Promotion Act, Article 2). Open to both Koreans and foreigners.
By promoting alternative homestay/hanokstay businesses, the city government hopes to encourage homeowners to start businesses and increase the awareness and occupancy rates of foreign tourists in Seoul. Main strategies to promote new businesses include: 1) hosting an information session in the first half of 2014 for Seoul citizens interested in opening homestay and hanokstay facilities, 2) opening an academy to offer classes in tax and accounting, management consulting, safety education, global etiquette and foreign languages, and 3) promoting alternative accommodation businesses through on and offline channels abroad.
For Foreign Tourists: Advertise “Seoul City Integrated Accommodation Reservation and Promotion Site” and Guide Maps on Google and Other Sites
Along with the homestay/hanokstay programs, the “Integrated Accommodation Reservation and Promotion site” (stay.visitseoul.net), which was launched last year in July, will be advertised to foreign tourists on major web portals such as Google and Yahoo between July and September. Moreover, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will actively promote these accommodation offline through “Tourism Seoul Night” information sessions and at Seoul Promotion Centers set up at tourism trade fairs abroad.
For the convenience of foreign tourists, the Seoul Metropolitan Government also plans to update its “Guide Map of Concentrated Areas for Alternative Accommodation,” made earlier this year, and place the maps at major tourism information centers and alternative accommodation businesses in Seoul.
Induce the Expansion of New Homestay Businesses by Providing Fire Extinguishers, Interpretation Phones, and Funding for Signboards
As part of its plan to encourage the expansion of alternative accommodation businesses, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will provide new business owners with 1) safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers and self-contained fire alarms, 2) phones and interpretation services in 7 languages for up to 1 year to the businesses having difficulties communicating, and 3) funds for signboards (up to ₩100,000).
In addition, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will facilitate meetings where accommodation business owners can meet to share ideas as well as regularly host feedback sessions for alternative accommodation businesses to share their opinions on current support measures. Feedback will then be used to improve future government policies.