“It may be a burden (to attract 18 million foreigners), but we will take the responsibility of pursuing this,” Do said in his New Year’s address. “Officials have said that such goals have been set under the premise that inter-Korea relations will continue to improve and more group tourists will visit Korea from China.”
|Do Jong-hwan (Yonhap)|
The number of inbound tourists recorded its highest-ever figure of 17.24 million in 2016, but nose-dived to 13.3 million the following year after Seoul-Beijing relations soured over a dispute surrounding the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system here.
Even after the Chinese government abolished some of its policies banning the sales of group tours to Korea, the figure for last year is expected to hover around 15 million.
Do also expressed hopes that inter-Korean sports engagements will continue into the new year, after the Koreas sent their first-ever unified team in the Olympics – women’s ice hockey -- to the PyeongChang Games in February.
“We (the ministry) have set the goal to push to jointly host (with North Korea) the 2032 Summer Games, and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has requested via mail that the ministers of both Koreas visit the IOC headquarters on Feb. 15 to explain our plans,” he said.
Do stressed that the government should continue support for culture and entertainment content, such as for boy band BTS, which has taken the world by storm over the past few years.
By Yoon Min-sik