Jeju, One of New 7 Wonders of Nature, Strives To Attract 2 Million Foreign Tourists by 2014
Jeju Island, which was chosen as one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World”, is striving to attract 2 million foreign tourists by 2014, a top official of the Jeju province said. Jeju Island made the list of the New Seven Wonders of Nature in a worldwide poll organized by the Swiss-based organization New7Wonders Foundation. The foundation announced the final winners on Nov. 12 on its website.
"With the island's selection as one of the world's seven wonders, we can realize the long-cherished dream of attracting 2 million foreign tourists to the island by 2014," Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Governor Woo Keun-min said.
In an interview with Korea IT Times, he said, "After almost four years of voting where 100 million people around the world took part, Jeju has already been gaining recognition as a world-famous tourist spot. The listing will open a new chapter for the island in terms of not only tourism but also in every other sector.” Jeju was chosen along with the Amazon in Brazil, Halong Bay in Vietnam, Iguazu Falls in Argentina, Komodo National Park in Indonesia, Puerto Princesa Underground River in the Philippines and Table Mountain in South Africa. They beat 21 other candidates through voting conducted on the Internet and via phone from July 2009 to Nov. 11 this year.
UNESCO has already designated the southern resort island as a World Natural Heritage Site, a global geopark and a biosphere reserve. "Thanks to the worldwide recognition of Jeju Island, the island has attracted a total of 903,333 foreign tourists as of Nov. 11 this year, up 29.3 percent from a year earlier. Its tourism revenue also soared to 1.18 trillion won as of the end of October," said Woo. He said, "We will develop tourism programs highlighting the new seven wonders inclusion and the three UNESCO designations. We will also seek cooperation with the six other new wonders.
"In particular, through the development of high value-added tourism products, including wedding packages and yacht and cruise trips, we will target the new wealthy Chinese in their 20s or 30s."
"First of all, we should embody a new vision and model of the tourism industry based on environmental and ecological values by linking the new seven wonders inclusion and the three UNESCO designations," said the governor.
Noting that airline routes and accommodations should be increased sharply, Woo said, "We plan to expand the number of direct airline routes from the present 26 from four countries to more than 30 by 2012. Related to this, we will negotiate with the central government to advance a plan to build a new international airport in the island.
"Owing to a rapid rise in the number of foreign tourists visiting Jeju Island, the shortage of accommodations is emerging as a big problem. In line with this, the province will spare no efforts to extend administrative and financial support to hotels and construction firms for their construction of 71 hotels with a total of 4,314 rooms at an early date."
Asked about the government's role to help Jeju lead the nation's tourism industry, the governor said that it should take the selection of Jeju as one of new seven wonders as a good chance to enhance the status of Korea and its national brand in global society.
"To this end, as far as I know, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism plans to strengthen its overseas PR activities by making the best use of the Jeju's seven wonders inclusion. In addition, the ministry will reflect the effects of the inclusion to the tourism products of 2012, the last year of the "Visit Korea" campaign, such as Korea Grand Sale," Woo said.
"Jeju Special Self-Governing Province also plans to seek close cooperation with the government in solving such issues as a construction of a new international airport, activation of no-visa entry for transfer foreign passengers using Jeju airport, overseas marketing and the improvement of service infrastructure," said the governor.
Improvement of shopping facilities
Commenting that the degree of foreign tourists satisfaction of shopping facilities and services in Jeju Island is not so high, Gov. Woo said, "We will make a strong push for specialization and differentiation of such commercial zones as traditional markets, underground shopping centers and shops selling local products.
"In particular, we will go all-out to attract large-scale overseas incentive tour groups such as a Chinese tour group consisting of wealthy people, honeymoon groups, yacht and other experience-type tour groups," he said.
Commenting that preserving the value of environmental assets is the right way to keep Jeju's global competitiveness, Woo said, "The province will create a world-famous carbon-free island and pursue the embodiment of sustainable green city. In a nutshell, we will make Jeju Island one of the places global tourists eagerly hope to visit and revisit with unforgettable memories."