[Outlook]Build it green, and they will come
The world has passed the eras of information technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology and cultural technology, and now green technology is the talk of the town.
A book titled “Code Green” is a hot seller, and American President Barack Obama declared that he would create 5 million new jobs through development of the green industry. Japan and China are pursuing green industrial models along with major countries in Europe.
Our government, too, has repeatedly mentioned the necessity of green growth. On Jan. 16, President Lee Myung-bak emphasized once again that green growth was not a matter of choice, but a must for the future development of the country.
The Korean government’s strategy for green growth is to add the green concept to key factors in the culture and tourism industries, while expanding a green tourism culture and developing eco-culture cities, making our renewable resources also tourism resources, and making the most of the content industry.
The eco-friendly concept is now being introduced to tourism as well.
Our economy is the world’s 13th largest, but the competitiveness of our tourism industry only ranks around 31st of 130 countries around the world.
We should develop tourism as an axis of green growth, and push our country into a leading spot on the world’s list of tourism destinations.
Tourism is an engine with which to develop the economy, society and culture, and the green concept is a basic framework for the tourism industry.
As we’re having difficulties overcoming the global economic turmoil, we need to find a new way of creating jobs. Green tourism could be just what we need. To develop that industry, three sectors must be integrated so that they can coexist.
First, the government must present a long-term plan for the preservation and maintenance of our natural resources, and local governments must draw up measures to effectively enact the details of the plan.
The steps taken by former administrations were mostly aimed at establishing infrastructure, but the incumbent administration must create a foundation for green growth that has a vision of the future.
When it comes to the administration’s plan to develop tourism around our four major rivers, we need a policy that will ensure a wide range of eco-friendly contents. Such a policy would encourage green development and combine local culture and festivals with a lifestyle of health and sustainability.
Second, companies involved in tourism must stop simply pursuing growth in scale, and instead must run their businesses in a way that keeps loyal customers coming back for the longest possible period.
Companies need new technologies and strategic marketing tools that will allow them to repackage existing items instead of manufacturing new products that will only last for a short time on the market.
The Philippines, for instance, has recently transformed jeepneys, the country’s popular means of transportation, into green vehicles available to tourists. In this way, the country combined an existing asset with green technology.
Saint-Malo in France is a beach town that could be found anywhere in Europe, but a seawater therapy center was built there and the place is now a popular destination.
Third, the people must acknowledge that green tourism is an integral part of our future and voluntarily develop cultural centers devoted to eco-friendly leisure.
The London Eye on London’s South Bank was built as one of the city’s millennium projects. The South Bank used to be poorer than other areas of the city, but a community center encouraged residents to voluntarily take part in redeveloping the neighborhood. The center functioned very well, and the area transformed itself.
We should establish a vision of Korea as a green country and use it to attract international tourists.
If we can make the environment and tourism work together in a business model, we will be able to establish this green image for the country, and its value will skyrocket in the global community.
Tourism is an engine that reveals a country’s level of industrialization, its competitiveness and the degree of globalization of its people.
I hope that we will be able to reap the benefits of green growth through effective use of green cultural tourism.
The writer is a professor at Kyung Hee University’s Graduate School of Tourism and chairman of the Korea Convention Sciences Society. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Ahn Kyung-mo