President Park Geun-hye on Monday urged officials at related ministries and agencies to develop domestic travel programs and to encourage workers to take more leisure time, as part of efforts to boost the home market and create quality jobs.
Calling tourism a vital new growth engine for the Korean economy, Park also ordered her team to carry out drastic reform measures to solve difficulties and investment obstacles for constant creation of new services and products.
“Outbound travel is increasing, but the total amount of domestic travel remains the same without a major change,” Park said at the second tourism promotion meeting held at Cheong Wa Dae.
“Policies to encourage (workers to take) alternative holidays or to support workers to take vacations should be promoted as well as development of tourism content and programs to revitalize the domestic tourism market,” she said.
The tourism industry was one of the five service sectors she vowed to promote as part of her three-year economic stimulus plan announced last month. “Only a 10 percent increase in domestic tourism could have a big effect,” she said. Koreans spend 24 trillion won ($22.1 billion) on domestic tourism every year. The annual expenditure contributes to national production worth more than 39 trillion won and creating jobs for about 500,000 people, she said, quoting recent data.
Park stressed the need to develop a variety of unique and on-site experience-based tourism programs such as food and eco-tourism. She also asked for efforts to be put into enhancing service quality and supporting professionals in the tourism industry through developing vocational training programs. Citing Switzerland’s success in nurturing professionals through specialized training, Park requested the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to seek ways to train professionals in the industry by collaborating with high schools and local colleges. Park was in the European country last month on a four-day state visit.
Park underscored the need for expanding financial and administrative support for business with fresh ideas on integrating IT technology into the tourism industry. To do so, the government plans to secure 50 billion won in funds between 2015 and 2019 to support smart tourism, which is aimed at delivering innovative approaches to promoting the tourism sector, for small- and medium-sized enterprises.
The participants included Deputy Prime Minister Hyun Oh-seok and the ministers of education, security, culture, food, welfare, environment, transport and oceans. Taleb Rifai, secretary-general of the United Nation’s World Tourism Organization, also attended the meeting to urge Korea to play a key role in boosting the global tourism industry.
They discussed ways to alleviate inconveniences suffered by foreign visitors and improve tourism investment. The government said it has decided to improve requirements for foreign investors on multifunctional resorts and allow hotels on the grounds of general hospitals.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org)