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  • Seoul to revitalize the Tourism industry from the impacts of MERS

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    SEOUL, Jul. 10, 2015 – The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced that it will be in its full gear to normalize the tourism industry which is the hardest hit by the outbreak of MERS until the Chinese National Holiday (October 1 to 7).

    According to the statistics, in June alone, 136 thousand tourists have cancelled their travel to Korea and the number of tourists in June this year slashed by half from the last year’s 1.03 million to 640 thousand. The number of in-bound tourist booking via agencies for July and August plunged to 200 thousand, 82 percent decrease compared to 1.13 million of the last year. The loss are expected to be around 108.5 billion won.

    To turn the tourism industry around, the Mayor of Seoul himself will take part in the effort and Seoul will not only use promotions, media, events and incentives to be in its full gear to encourage tourists to visit Korea but also mobilize celebrities and contents of the Korean Wave.

    The core message which contains the essence of the strategy is “Perfect moment to visit Seoul (就是现在, 来首尔吧!)”. The message is telling tourists that the time when the tourism has been hit by MERS is the perfect time to enjoy full advantage including ‘buy 1, get 1’ promotions. Seoul is trying to turn this crisis as an opportunity.

    Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, who voluntarily took the role of Emergency Officer for Seoul Tourism, will promote Korea as a representative salesman for Korean Tourism by starting his journey from visiting major cities of China like Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing to help Seoul’s tourism industry to recover to the level before the outbreak of MERS. He said that he, himself, will visit major travel agencies and shopping malls and shopping streets to lure Chinese tourists back to Korea and will visit as many countries as necessary.

    Seoul Metropolitan Government also will pour its full energy in marketing and promotion via local press, online media and Korean wave contents. Most of all, it supports the Chinese entertainment program shooting in Seoul. Seoul is now consulting the program shooting of Chinese version of Korean entertainment program called ‘We’ve got married’ which marked the highest viewership ratings among the same time programs in China. Consultation is in its final stage and Seoul is also attracting other programs as well.

    Additionally, Seoul is planning to promote Seoul through one of the most popular entertainment programs in Korea, “The Running Man” by shooting the program at the main streets of Seoul like Myeong-dong and distributing the program to China and Southeast Asian countries.

    It will also seek for participations from the private sector. Two major national air carriers of Korea will invite 400 CEOs of Chinese travel agencies and the Mayor Park will surprisingly guide the team to the hot places in Seoul. On July 14, Mayor Park will walk from Namsan Palgakjeong Pavillion to Seoul Fortress Wall with the guests of Korean Air and walk down the road of Myeong-dong with the guests of Asiana Airlines on July 16.

    Endless shopping and cultural events are ready to impress tourists who visit Seoul again. Not only events like Summer Sales (July), Korea Grand Sale (from Aug 28 to Oct 31, co-hosting with Visit Korea Committee), Seoul Bazaar Festival (August) are waiting for tourists but also Mega Concert with Korean Wave Stars will take place (October) at Seoul Plaza and will be aired all around the world via internet.

    In September, Seoul will host ‘Seoul Travel Mart’ where travel agencies can promote and sell Seoul Tour products to foreign travel agencies targeting out-bound tourists. It will also temporarily provide maximum 20 million won as incentives to the agencies according to the volume of the tourists so that the tourism industry itself could be the main player in overcoming the crisis and revitalizing the industry.

    The plan to mobilize the Korean Wave stars who are popular in the country to introduce Seoul and to have a local fan meeting in order to help Mayor Park to successfully implement the local roadshow is under negotiation.

    For the start, in the early August, the Mayor is planning to visit from Guangzhou, Shanghai and to Beijing and target China and Southeast Asian countries as his 2nd and 3rd destination to implement the roadshow in relay.

    Tourist Welcome Season will continue until October. The core of Seoul’s strategy is to not just satisfy the tourists but to impress them for their visiting by providing shopping, cultural events to enjoy endless charm of Seoul.

    Especially, during the Chinese National Holiday (Oct 1st to Oct 7th), Seoul will welcome Chinese Tourists by holding Mega Concert with Korean Wave Stars, Seoul Firework Festival (Oct 3rd) and the biggest Seoul Bazaar Festival.

    The festivals hosted by the city government will be also focused on the revitalization of tourism as well. The Han River summer festival Hangang Mongttang (July), Yuk-uijeon (Six Major Markets of the Joseon Dynasty) Experience Festival at the Jongno and Cheonggyecheon Tourism Special District (September) and Artists Road Concerts will provide various things to see and enjoy. The regular concert stage will be installed at Seoul Plaza for the concerts of an orchestra or music bands (September to October).

    Lastly, Seoul plans to focus its energy in supporting the revitalization of tourism industry so that they can overcome the crisis by themselves weathering the outbreak of MERS.

    Seoul Travel Mart will be held for 4 days in September and 10 million people from travel industry of more than 300 agencies of Korea, China and Southeast Asian countries will participate in the event. Seoul has invited those guests to promote and sell Seoul Tour products to foreign travel agencies by providing business consultations, travel product introduction and tailored FAM Tour for target countries.

    By introducing various incentives, Seoul is to vitalize tourism industry through financial support from the city government.

    Furthermore, it will strengthen incentives for international conferences, corporate conferences and exhibitions and will actively host international MICE marketing and promotion events to lead vitalization of tourism industry by attracting huge volume of MICE tourists to Seoul.

    As part of the efforts, Seoul will temporarily ease the crackdown on illegal parking of tourist buses from July to September.

    Seoul also launched [Working Level Team for Tourism Revitalization] where SMG, Tourism industry and private companies are participating in to solve common issues and check the current implementation status according to the sector.

    “The outbreak of MERS was a crisis for the tourism industry while the crisis can be turn into an opportunity for the Seoul tourism industry to leap forward if it wisely overcome the current situation,” Kim Ui-Seung, a Director of Tourism and Sport Department said. “We will do everything as much as we can to attract the tourists as many as possible so that we can see the Myeong-dong street full of tourists and the tourism industry can revive again”, he added.