Korea International Travel Mart (KITM) 2011, an inbound travel fair, will be held at COEX in Samseong-dong and Lotte Hotel in Jamsil, Seoul for a five-day run from June 1.
"KITM is an inbound travel market that offers opportunities for business talks between domestic local travel agencies and outbound travel agencies in China, Japan, Southeast Asia, Oceania, and the U.S.," Kyung-ah Han, executive director of the Visit Korea Committee, said. "We hope the business talks will lead to the development of new attractive tourism products for foreign visitors to Korea," she added.
About 400 domestic and foreign guests in the tourism industry, including Shin Dong-bin, Chairman of the Visit Korea Committee, and Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Jung Byung-gook, are to attend the opening ceremony slated for June 1.
"On June 2, an explanatory session on Korean tourism and the Travel Mart, a B2B consultation meeting in which some 150 foreign travel agencies and 250 domestic travel agencies are to participate, will be held," said Han.
"During the remaining three days until June 5, participants are scheduled to engage in Fam Tour to provincial regions, including Busan, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Jeju-do, Gangwon-do, Chungcheongnam-do and Jeollanam-do," she explained.
Asked about the characteristics of KITM 2011, Han said, "KITM 2011 will be held in linkage with Korea World Travel Fair, the nation's biggest tourism exhibition, to provide some 150 foreign buyers with integrated tourism contents. In particular, KITM 2011 will focus its efforts on B2B business consultations between domestic local travel agencies and outbound travel agencies in foreign countries, including Japan and China.
"In 2010, about 150 foreign sellers engaged in more than 600 consultation meetings with domestic buyers through online two-way scheduling services," she explained. Thanks to such active Visit Korea Year projects, about 8.8 million foreign tourists visited Korea in 2010, up 10 percent from the previous year.
Four special events for 2011
"In particular, the Visit Korea Committee will hold four special events in the latter half of this year to attract 10 million foreign tourists to the country," Han said. They are Hallyu Dream Festival, Korea Food Festival, the Busan International Fireworks Festival, and the Jeju Olle Walking Festival.
Hallyu Dream Festival, which will be held in Gyeongju, the ancient capital of Shilla Kingdom from which the splendid national culture and history originated, from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, will feature Korea's fashion, music, drama and other top-class cultural contents.
Domestic and foreign visitors will also enjoy Korea's traditional foods, including bibimbap, kimchi, and galbi, as well as temple food at the Korea Food Festival, which is scheduled to be held in Jeonju from Oct. 20 to 24.
The food festival consists of Korea-Han Food Style introducing the history and culture of Korean-style food, as well as temple food; October Makgeolli Fest presenting Korea's traditional rice wine; Food & Tour providing participants with a tour to alleys of Korea's traditional village; Korea Food Plaza offering visitors a chance to learn about food science, food culture and food cultural arts & educational programs; and Jeonju Bibimbap Festival featuring bibimbap, rice mixed with meat, vegetables, egg and hot pepper paste, and other traditional food.
"The 7th Busan International Fireworks Festival, one of the world's best fireworks events, will be held at Gwangalli Beach in Busan from Oct. 21 to 29, presenting an unforgettable memory and hope to some 1.3 million visitors," she said.
"Finally, we will organize the Jeju Olle Walking Festival on Jeju Island from Nov. 6 to 11. Participants can experience unique island culture and enjoy specialty foods, while walking on the island," Han said.
"Through the four special events, we hope to strengthen tourism competitiveness of the provincial regions and to attract more foreign visitors, while enabling Korea to emerge as one of the most attractive and vital tourist destinations in the world," she said.
"We will also strengthen PR marketing activities of Jeju Island through the Jeju Olle Walking Festival to help the beautiful island be selected as one of the world's seven natural wonders in the coming November," said Han.
Related to this, the Visit Korea Committee plans to dispatch a special team to Japan and China to attract more Japanese and Chinese tourists this year and hold tourism explanatory meetings in foreign countries by making the best use of overseas branches of Korea Tourism Organization.
Various incentives for foreign tourists
"As part of its efforts to lure more foreign tourists, the Visit Korea Committee provides foreign tourists with a variety of incentives, including operation of free shuttle buses between Seoul-Busan, online coupon discount service for tourists for shopping, Korea Grand Sale and One More Night Promotion campaigns," she said.
"In addition, the committee is staging a nationwide hospitality campaign, which is often regarded as one of the nation's most fragile sectors in tourism competitiveness. In a concrete step, we plan to educate those engaging in the tourism sector about hospitality service and global etiquettes," Han noted. The committee has been staging the Visit Korea Year campaign since 2010, which will end in 2012.
In 2010, Hallyu Dream Festival was held in Gyeongju City, Gyeongsangbuk-do from Sept. 10 to 12. Korea Food Festival was also held in Jeonju City, Jeollabuk-do from Oct. 21 to 27. Meanwhile, Busan Metropolitan City hosted the Busan International Fireworks Festival from Oct. 21 to 23. In 2012, the committee will organize the Multicultural Festival, Peace Festival, Environment Festival and other special events.
"To achieve a great success in the ongoing Visit Korea Year campaign, the central government and provincial governments should actively push for a hardware project to improve tourism infrastructure, whereas the tourism industry and people need to make a strong push for a software project to improve tourism services," she added.