제목 [Cs] CICI explores ways to attract tourists to Korea [2016.05.20 The Korea Times]
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[Lubosh Barta, general manager of Four Seasons Seoul, left, shares his opinion on attracting Chinese tourists while Darren Morrish, general manager of Grand Intercontinental Seoul Parnas, listens. / Courtesy of CICI]



The Corea Image Communication Institute (CICI) explored ways to attract tourists to the country during its annual 5.4 Club meeting Tuesday.

The 5.4 Club was established in 2013 by CICI President Choi Jung-wha and her husband Didier Beltoise to share Korean culture through the five senses using four methods ― eating, seeing, enjoying and talking.

With more Chinese tourists coming to Korea, the question was posed at the meeting about "what would be the next event to interest the Chinese in enjoying Korean culture," following two previous events that catered to the Chinese ― the "chimac" (chicken and beer) and "samgyetang" food events held for a large group of Chinese travelers to Seoul.

But club members suggested that Korea develops its own uniqueness to attract global tourists as a whole, in which the Chinese will be just a part. They expressed concern about focusing on a particular nationality.

"The way I see how we should attract Chinese is how we should attract all foreigners," said Mark Chung, president of KCMI, a musical company.

"It's more about how can we present the strengths of this country, what is uniquely Korean. It's kind of like dating. We should present the attractiveness of Korea. What is sustainable for us is highlighting the things we already have here and promoting that overseas. If we start making ourselves into what we think they like, then we start losing what we have. The major brands all over the world don't change because of a certain type of audience."

Darren Morrish, general manager of Grand Intercontinental Seoul Parnas, said: "We should be catering to all international tourists.

"The Chinese will find another K-pop. They can turn to any other cultural interest. So we should look across the sea. It shouldn't just be the Chinese, it should be international."

Others said Korea needs to develop its own story and unique experiences.

Nils-Arne Schroeder, general manager of Conrad Seoul, said: "Korea doesn't have a story to tell. Korea has focused on volume to achieve mass tourism but there's no story for people to be fascinated by, except to go shopping in Myeong-dong. Quality tourism is going to Japan, not coming to Korea.

"Hotels are not benefiting from it because the Chinese are staying in cheap hotels in Myeong-dong. Chicken is just a promotion gate. Korea deserves more than that. France has a story and people spend millions of dollars to experience it."

The members also suggested that the industry should cater to the high-end demand of luxury travelers in addition to the mass market.

"There needs to be a balance between the mass market and the high-end market," said Lubosh Barta, general manager of Four Seasons Seoul.

"We work at the top end of the segment and we noticed from our customers that they want to see the private collections which aren't available to the general public. That's where Korea needs to open up more to the outside than just shopping at Myeong-dong."


By Yun Suh-young    ysy@ktimes.com


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