The Korea Tourism Organization plans to unfold a two-track approach where it focuses on stabilizing inflows of visitors from such countries as China, Japan and the United States, while diversifying its portfolio by attracting people from other countries, including Vietnam and India.
The tourism promotion agency said it will strengthen marketing efforts on different target groups and develop new high value tourism products.
|Tourists visit Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul on Jan. 6, 2018.(Yonhap)|
The KTO is also planning to give 100,000 won ($93.50) in subsidies per person to 20,000 employees at small and medium-sized enterprises to vitalize the domestic tourism market.
Another key task for the tourism promotion agency this year is to develop more tour programs to the Demilitarized Zone, the 2.5-mile wide strip of land separating the two Koreas.
The KTO said it will integrate various DMZ tour policies and businesses operated by different provincial governments, and will train 150 guides specialized in DMZ tours.
"In order to overcome the Korean tourism industry's weakness of being susceptible to external factors, such as global politics or economic issues, we need a paradigm shift from seeking a quantitative growth to a more qualitative one," said Kang Oki, acting president of the KTO.
A total of 13.3 million foreigners visited Korea last year down 22.7 percent from a year earlier, according to data from the KTO.
The drop has been widely expected as Beijing has banned its travel agencies from selling Korea-bound trips since mid-March, in apparent retaliation over Seoul's deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system.
The number of Chinese nationals who visited Korea stood at 4.16 million last year, down a sharp 48.3 percent from 8 million tallied the previous year. The Chinese accounted for nearly half of the 17 million foreigners who visited Korea in 2016.(Yonhap)