To meet the increasing demand for luxury travel to Korea, the Korea Tourism Organization has developed two tour programs in partnership with the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City (Met) and a US-based luxury travel agency.
Sixteen tourists from the US will be arriving Wednesday on a nine-day tour package called "Travel with The Met," priced at 14 million won ($9,599) per person, excluding airfare.
The "Travel with The Met" program was created especially for Met members, and offers a choice of over 24 destinations each year. All tours are led by renowned curators and educators with itineraries that include the destination country's major museums and art galleries.
Under the theme "Land of the Morning Calm: Ancient to Modern Korea," the tour includes visits to UNESCO heritage sites as well as major galleries, private studios and museums in Seoul and Gyeongju, including the National Museum of Korea and Gyeongju National Museum.
The trip's participants will be accompanied by Christopher Noey, an art historian and author who won an Emmy for producing films on art and culture based on his expertise in Asian and Islamic art.
Meanwhile, another group of 42 travelers from six countries will arrive in Korea on Nov. 1 on a private jet for a four-day trip.
The trip is part of a seven-country tour program designed by Abercrombie & Kent, a US-based luxury travel agency.
Korea is the first leg of the 24-day tour, which departs from Seattle and includes stops in Vietnam, Laos, the Maldives, Turkey, Benin and Brazil. The tour ends in New Orleans with a Mardi Gras-style farewell celebration. The whole package costs 220 million won per person.
The itinerary for the Korea portion of the trip, named "Borders and Palaces,” highlights experience and learning sessions such as a temple food workshop held at Jingwansa, a traditional tea session curated by a resident tea master in Gyeongbokgung and private spa treatments at high-end hotels.
After a visit to the Demilitarized Zone, a lunch with North Korean defectors living in South Korea is scheduled as an opportunity to hear real-life stories of their journeys to the South and their lives in the two Koreas.
“Another series of luxury tours are set for next August, as more luxury travelers show interest in Korea,” said Yu Jin-ho, the KTO’s travel package department head.
High-end travel is a lucrative sector, with luxury travelers spending four times as much as regular travelers, according to Yu. He added that the KTO is seeking ways to promote more quality products.