SEOUL-- With the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics 200 days away, the local tourism industry and the government are gearing up for the quadrennial sports event with a wide array of events aimed at attracting more foreign and local visitors.
At the forefront of such efforts is the state-run tourism promotion agency, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), which will push marketing that promotes traditional cuisine, scenic vistas and filming sites of popular Korean dramas.
Last week, the government unveiled more detailed cultural programs that will take place in the runup to and during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, as part of efforts to offer visitors more culturally diverse and unique experiences.
For one, the JazzPresso Festival took place at 15 coffee shops in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, a eastern seaside city known for its local cafe culture, for a three-day run last week.
Also the PyeongChang Music Festival ran at the concert hall of the Alpensia Resort in the host city of PyeongChang earlier this month. Some of the concert programs featured performances by Japanese and Chinese musicians to highlight the fact that the three neighboring countries have hosted in recent years or are planning to host major international sports events.
And a special art residency program will bring in 23 artists from around the world in September, who will create performances and visual art pieces based on their local experiences. The final output will be made public in October, according to government organizers.
The move comes at a time when local tourism organizations have stepped up efforts to release novel tour programs to woo Japanese and Southeast Asian visitors amid a sharp drop in Chinese visitors.
South Korea tourism has been hit by a dearth in Chinese travelers triggered by the apparent retaliation by Beijing against the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system, or the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), on the Korean Peninsula.
Since March 15, Beijing has banned the selling of Korea-bound travel packages, which is hurting the local tourism sector.
Last month, the KTO also held various events in New York to promote the upcoming Winter Olympics, which included introducing Korean cuisine to the media and opening a promotion booth at Times Square in New York City to attract more American visitors to the games, which will kick off Feb. 8 next year for a 17-day run.
The tourism agency also opened a booth during KCON New York -- a global Korean pop music and culture convention arranged by CJ E and M.
The regional government of Gangwon Province expects to see more than 2 million visitors during the quadrennial event.
For the region, putting on a successful Winter Games is important, but just like any other host of a mega event, transforming itself into an attractive travel destination over the long haul is also critical.
Gangwon Province is already a popular all year vacation spot for locals, but the province is looking for the best way to capitalize on the new sports infrastructure from the Olympics while getting international recognition.
For foreigners to enjoy the region beyond sports events, Gangwon Province said earlier it will establish 13 additional tourist centers and check service conditions of 300 restaurants and lodging facilities by the end of 2017.
The province, moreover, said it plans to organize and nurture distinct cultural festivals and tourism-related events that take full advantage of the region's beautiful scenery.
Source: Yonhap News Agency