Chairing the Tourism Promotion Meeting in Seoul, the President of the Republic of Korea, Park Geun-hye, unveiled plans to advance tourism promotion by boosting ‘smart tourism’, encouraging more nationals to travel and promoting capacity building in support of job creation. UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, addressed the Meeting and underscored the country’s lead in connecting state-of-the-art tourism initiatives with the sector’s potential to face poverty challenges and provide development opportunities (3 February 2014, Seoul, Republic of Korea).
President Geun-hye expressed her government’s commitment to intensively promote tourism, which “has higher job creation capacity and boosts domestic expenditure”. She stressed the need to set policies to enable people to expand their periods of vacation through dedicated programmes such as the ´Replacement Holidays Plan´ and ´Domestic Tour Week´. In support of tourism policy measures, the Republic of Korea wants to seize its advanced technological infrastructure and further expand the country´s Smart Tourism initiatives.
“I commend the decision of the current administration of the Republic of Korea to place tourism as a driving force of the nation’s economy,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai addressing the Meeting in Seoul. He further highlighted the role of Korea in international cooperation stressing that “Korea can make a difference by sharing its know-how and knowledge on economic development, especially through tourism, a positioning which will strongly benefit from the shift of the current UNWTO ST-EP Foundation into a formal and independent international organization.
Mr. Rifai added that Korea has been instrumental in the inclusion of tourism in the Outcome Document of UN Conference on Sustainable Development: Rio+20 and that UNWTO looked forward to following the work of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in leading the implementation of the Sustainable Development through Tourism agenda.
In 2013, the Republic of Korea received over 12 million international visitors, a 9% increase from the previous year. This growth was attributed to the country´s commitment to developing a creative economy linked to tourism as well as significant improvements in visa facilitation. Korea´s domestic tourism market size is projected to reach 30 trillion won (21 billion euros) by 2017 or a 25% increase from 2013.