For the third consecutive year Seoul has ranked first as the city Asians most want to visit within a year. Exposure to advertisements and promotions leads the list of reasons for their favoring Seoul, evidence that the city’s overseas marketing efforts are paying off.
The online panel poll was conducted by the Nielsen Company in November 2010 and January 2011, respectively, in China, Japan and Thailand with a total of 3,200 participants (1,600 Chinese, 1,000 Japanese, and 600 Thais). A separate one-to-one survey was also carried out in Seoul in January 2011 with 600 tourists from the three countries visiting the city (250 Chinese, 250 Japanese, and 100 Thais).
Poll participants designated Seoul as the city “they most want to travel to within a year.” Chinese participants ranked Seoul as highest on their must-visit list at 16.4 percent, followed by Tokyo at 11 percent and Sydney at 9.4 percent. Japanese respondents also ranked Seoul first, at 10.6 percent, ahead of Honolulu at 10.2 percent and Paris at 5.4 percent. Thai participants put Seoul on top at 19 percent, with Tokyo next at 16.8 percent and the Maldives at 9.8 percent, respectively.
The poll results revealed that Seoul City’s tailored promotion and marketing efforts focused on China, Japan and Southeast Asian countries, carried out since 2008, have played a major role in boosting tourist interest in the capital. Thai participants cited these as primary reasons for their wanting to travel to Seoul, with Chinese respondents counting them second.
In a similar poll conducted last year, respondents were asked whether their desire to visit Seoul was based on “TV commercials and dramas,” but were not asked whether other types of advertising and promotion of the city contributed to their interest. This latest poll included this aspect, in order to more accurately gauge the impact of Seoul City’s overseas marketing efforts.
A separate poll conducted on 600 tourists from China, Japan and Thailand revealed the major positive impact the city’s advertisements and other marketing efforts had on their decision to visit Seoul. 28 percent of Chinese respondents cited TV commercials as the reason they chose to travel to Seoul, while 12 percent of Japanese and 25 percent of Thai tourists said they decided to visit Seoul after being exposed to the city’s marketing programs including TV commercials.
|1. Close geographic location (33.3%)||1. Close geographic location 65.2%)||1. Advertisements of Seoul in media (40.6%)|
|2. Advertisements of Seoul in media (31.8%)||2. Previous visit (29.7%)||2. TV dramas filmed in Seoul (38.5%)|
|3. TV dramas filmed in Seoul (28.9%)||3. Discounted tours/flights (19.0%)||3. Various promotions (25.7%)|
|4. Various promotions (20.9%)||4. TV dramas filmed in Seoul(15.5%)||4 Discounted tours/flights(25.1%)|
|5. Previous visit (19.2%)||5. Advertisements of Seoul in media (15.5%)||5. Accompanying family/friends (21.9%)|
In another poll, Seoul was selected as a city people from the three Asian countries would like to visit despite the expense. In particular, Seoul ranked first among Japanese and Thai tourists and second among Chinese respondents just after Hong Kong.
|1. Hong Kong (16.8%)||1. Seoul (3.5%)||1. Seoul (12.7%)|
|2. Seoul (15.0%)||2. Taipei (2.9%)||2. Osaka (12.0%)|
|3. Singapore (14.0%)||3. Hong Kong (2.7%)||3. Tokyo (11.7%)|
|4. Tokyo (11.8%)||4. Singapore (2.7%)||4. Kuala Lumpur (8.7%)|
|5. Taipei (9.8%)||5. Bangkok (2.6%)||5. Taipei (7.5%)|
The year 2010 saw Seoul’s city brand gain momentum, especially in China. The number of Chinese visitors to Seoul increased about 40 percent from the previous year, with their overall impression of Seoul more positive.
Of the Chinese respondents, 29.4 percent said that they consider Seoul as their foremost vacation destination, up 20.9 percent from last year. As well, 16.4 percent of Chinese people responded that Seoul heads their wish list for places to travel to within the year, up 11.5 percent from a year earlier.
Of the Japanese participants, 32.9 percent ranked Seoul as their premier overseas vacation destination, followed by Hong Kong at 23.4 percent. Seoul was also the city the Japanese respondents selected as the one they would most recommend to others, at 30.5 percent. Hong Kong was runner-up at 21.5 percent.
Among the Thai respondents, 95.3 percent expressed their desire to visit Seoul, up from 93.7 percent a year earlier. In Thailand, the ratio of those hoping to visit Seoul has remained at over 90 percent for two straight years.
Thai participants cited exposure to promotions and advertisements on Seoul, and TV dramas filmed in the city, as the main reasons they would like to visit Seoul (65.8 percent). This number was up from 50.2 percent last year. Specifically, more than 40 percent credited promotions and advertisements as the reasons for their interest in traveling to Seoul, indicating that the city’s overseas marketing efforts have been especially effective in Thailand.
Seoul City has been actively producing and distributing TV commercials on Seoul tailored to the Chinese, Japanese and Southeast Asian markets since 2008, enhancing its image in those countries. The year 2009 saw such “Korean Wave” stars as Super Junior, Girls’ Generation, 2PM and Lee Byung-hun cast in TV commercials aired in those countries, encouraging greater interest in Seoul.
Moreover, Seoul City has expanded its cooperation with Discovery Channel, TV Tokyo of Japan, Beijing TV of China and Ch.5 of Thailand in producing diverse marketing programs aimed at promoting the city’s overseas marketing slogan, “Infinitely yours, Seoul”, around the world.
Despite risks associated with the global financial crisis, the outbreak of a new flu, and increased geopolitical tensions following the North’s attack on South Korea’s naval ship and a western maritime border island, the number of foreign visitors to Seoul reached 7.82 million in 2009 and grew 12.7 percent to 8.8 million in 2010.
In particular, growth in tourists from China and Thailand, two major target countries for Seoul, jumped 39.7 percent and 36.5 percent, respectively. This marked growth is attributable to Seoul’s aggressive and effective overseas marketing campaigns, the expansion of which is expected to eventually attract more than 10 million foreign visitors annually.