In the wake of the fall peak tourism season, Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) will launch a campaign to promote the “urban homestay business,” in a bid to encourage homeowners to rent their empty rooms to foreign tourists. The SMG expects this initiative to increase the amount of available tourism accommodation, which is currently in short supply, and create jobs for retired people.
The SMG said that it will invite homeowners to participate in the urban homestay business for foreign tourists, designate September and October as a “special promotional period for the urban homestay business for foreign tourists,” and start a campaign to introduce the system and inform prospective participants of how to use the service via various media channels.
Under the intensive promotional campaign, the SMG expects that the project to galvanize the urban homestay business, in which Seoul residents rent out and share their empty rooms with foreign tourists, will gather significant momentum. A total of 329 urban homestay businesses were registered as lodging facilities for foreign tourists as of the end of August 2013, and the SMG aims to increase the number to 550 by the end of the year.
The two-month intensive campaign will include roadshow sessions in which the SMG will offer information sessions for residents and onsite information sessions in areas with a heavy concentration of urban homestay homes in the second half of 2013, the installation of signboards in areas with a heavy concentration of urban homestay homes to ensure greater convenience for foreign tourists, and the online and offline promotion of urban homestays.
The SMG will create guide maps on areas with a high concentration of urban homestay homes in different languages (English, Japanese, and Chinese – both simplified Chinese characters and traditional Chinese characters), and install signboards indicating the locations of urban homestay businesses in areas near subway stations to enhance convenience in the use of urban homestay homes by foreign tourists. In 2013, the SMG will place guide maps and signboards centered on a number of areas including Sinchon and Hongdae, Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Daehangno, Jongno, and Samcheong-dong, and expand the service by reflecting tourists’ response.
Additionally, the SMG will step up its online and offline promotion activities to introduce urban homestay homes in Seoul to foreign countries in order to increase overseas awareness of urban homestay businesses and to attract greater numbers of foreign tourists to them. In September, the city will launch an online advertising campaign to introduce the integrated urban homestay business reservation site (stay.visitseoul.net), which it has been test-operating since July, to major foreign sites, and conduct offline PR campaigns through the Seoul PR booth at overseas tourism and trade fairs. Overseas online advertisements on urban homestay businesses will also be posted on major sites such as Google and Yahoo in three major language blocs (English, Japanese and Chinese, including simplified Chinese characters and traditional Chinese characters).
Seoul Metropolitan Government is providing information on urban homestay business and diverse types of assistance with the aim of encouraging 350 homes to register as urban homestay businesses for foreign tourists in the course of this year. The city is offering subsidies and items for operation, including fees (300,000 won per year) for the use of a simultaneous translation service in seven foreign languages and the production costs of signboards (up to 100,000 won) to urban homestay businesses. Furthermore, the SMG has been running a monthly urban homestay business academy for the operators of such businesses since May (To be held through December for a total of eight times). On July 26, the city opened the integrated urban homestay reservation service (stay.visitseoul.net), which introduces registered urban homestay businesses and professional reservation agencies, and linked the service to the Seoul tourism site (visitseoul.net) in an effort to increase awareness of urban homestays and boost their credibility.