The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on Tuesday announced five cities across the country will be developed into tourism hubs.
“Five cities were picked based on their potential. We will inject around 15.9 billion won ($13.51 million) in total this year,” Culture Minister Park Yang-woo said during a press conference in Seoul. The move is aimed at promoting destinations outside of Seoul, which currently attracts the vast majority of overseas tourists.
Busan, picked as a global tourism city, will receive around 4.3 billion won this year.
“Busan already has great infrastructure and high potential to become a global tourism city,” Park said, highlighting its beaches and local festivals.
The four other cities are Gangneung in Gangwon Province, Jeonju in North Jeolla Province, Mokpo in South Jeolla Province and Andong in North Gyeongsang Province. They will receive around 8.6 billion won in total. Another 3 billion won from state coffers has been allotted for consulting and promotional activities.
According to the ministry, a committee with experts from diverse fields -- including architectural design, transport and smart tourism -- participated in the selection process. It added that the five cities will be turned into world-class tourism sites over the next five years.
During the press conference, Park emphasized the importance of the project in reaching the government’s goal of attracting more than 20 million tourists -- who are expected to spend more than 120 trillion won -- in 2020.
“In 2019, we attracted 17.5 million tourists, reaching the highest mark ever,” Park said. “However, around 70 to 80 percent of them were visitors to Seoul. To further expand the Korean tourism industry, it is important to foster tourism business in cities outside of Seoul.”
“We will discuss details of the project with each city during workshops that will be held in February,” Jo Hyun-rae, director general of the Tourism Industry Policy Bureau, said during the conference. “When selecting the cities, we tried to pick those that do not need to build new buildings or facilities. We will mainly discuss renovating existing ones.”
Responding to a question about whether the five cities are prepared to tackle crises that impact tourism, such as the spread of a coronavirus, the ministry said it would take the issue into consideration.
“We will talk to selected cities and include plans on what to do in times of crisis or disaster,” Jo said.
By Song Seung-hyun (email@example.com