As industry, invisible trade, tourism becomes an essential factor for national revenues in each country; it has brought some positive effects to social and economic fields. Reinvigoration the local economy, cultural exchanges between different countries and promoting international friendship are those. In Korea, the tourist industry has intensively fostered as strategic industry, since 1975. In addition, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), which is in charge of foreign marketing and domestic tourism promotion, has played a central role in the tourism field. However in spite of KTO’s existence, few local tourism organizations have been established independently (at Gyeonggi and Incheon), and there are still changes to be made of new local tourism organization’s foundations. Then why have local tourism organizations been established? Is this a positive or negative phenomenon? Before answering these questions, we need to understand what local tourism organizations do exactly. Here are some representative works of what they have done.
Gyeonggi Tourism Organization (GTO) made tour package for Korean residents in America. This package focused on experiencing Korean traditional culture. And Gyeonggi-Do’s day festival, which was fixed during the Korea Festival Exhibition was held by GTO. This special day attracted attention, because the festival was connected with an experience.
Incheon Tourism Organization (ITO) supervised the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival with other corporations. Even though this rock festival has grown into a big festival, still there is a problem with expenses. The?ITO paid production costs, which were over 3 Billion won, but the total sales were known to be only 2.2 Billion won.
Seoul’s Tourism Organization, which expects to be established, will take charge of running the Casino business. This business plans to attract foreign tourists, especially Chinese millionaires.
These local tourism organizations seemed to have some merits and demerits. Based upon merits and demerits, there are two sides about local tourism organizations establishment.
The merits, which can be persuasive, are as follows: advance in local tourism’s quality, revitalization of the local economy, and disappearance of standardized and copied festivals. Based upon these reasons, GTO and ITO are affirmative about the new establishments, because of increased local organizations. They expect cooperation among organizations, which can bring a synergy affect. In addition, travel agencies, which also generate profits, expect to see the appearance of local tourism organizations that will affect the local industries in a positive way, and to the whole tourist industry. It hopes that local tourism organizations will play a pivotal role in the development of new products and the expansion of tourism’s infrastructure.
On the other hand, KTO argues that businesses will be duplicated so a budget is wasted. Moreover, it said that marketing to foreign countries is not easy to do independently. It means that marketing Korea’s tourism programs will need a lot of budget and know-how.
General opinions of side which opposed to local tourism organization’s establishment are as follows. The reason is that local tourism organizations do not have enough profitable business models. Therefore, tourism organizations suffer from a chronic deficit. In fact, since they were established, GTO and ITO have never been able to keep their balance in the black. To escape from chronic deficits, the ITO runs a convention center, and built a hotel. However, it is still not enough to cover their deficits. Gangwon-Do planned to establish a tourism organization, but it hesitated to build, because of a former organization’s unsuccessful result.
In this situation, cooperation among local tourism organizations is needed. In fact, in September, GTO and ITO contracted a business agreement. To sum up details of this contract, each excellent strategy for attracting tourists will be connected and tourist products will be developed with mutual agreements. Thanks to this contract, they can strengthen their joint marketing and tourists can gain better tourist information more easily regardless of an administrative district.
Though there are some difficulties to establish new local tourism organizations, it seems that setting up these organizations will be continued. Then what improvements should be made? KTO and new local tourism organizations must allot the part of the work clearly. It means that KTO attaches importance to an overseas information service and local tourism organizations undertake domestic tourism marketing.
The establishment of local tourism organizations can be helpful to the tourism industry. Maybe it can be a chance to give a strong impression to foreign tourists. However, to use this chance pertinently, local tourism organizations must bring keynote attractions of the region to the potential tourists. They must operate effectively among organizations in Korea.
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