5.4 club’s mission is tailored tourism

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5.4 club’s mission is tailored tourism


Choi Jung-wha, center, and leading figures of restaurants and art centers gathered on March 21 to celebrate the launching of 5.4 Club, an organization dedicated to offering tailored tour packages to prominent overseas opinion leaders. Provided by Corea Image Communication Institute

With more than 10 million tourists visiting Korea last year, a fresh initiative dedicated to better accommodating them was launched March 21 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in central Seoul.

As a sub-organization of the Corea Image Communication Institute (CICI), a nonprofit aiming to promote Korean culture overseas, the 5.4 Club looks to offer customized tourism information for foreign visitors, especially influential figures.

With the slogan “Feeling Korea Through Five Senses and Four Themes,” it will suggest four ways of enjoying Korea: sightseeing, eating and drinking, entertainment and the arts, and communication.

The tourism initiative will be led by Choi Jung-wha, president of CICI and her husband, Didier Beltoise, CEO of the consulting firm Cs as well as a chef. The club will encourage its members - ranging from prominent chefs and executives of cultural centers to the head of a dance club - to tailor tourism packages to individual visitors.

“More and more people have become interested in Korea thanks to the growing popularity of K-pop. A number of opinion leaders I met while translating expressed a lot of interest, but it was always regrettable that there was no high-end tourism package that can fully reflect what Korea is,” said Choi, who is a professor at the Graduate School of Interpretation and Translation at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

“We can have vitamin C by taking a pill, but there is another way: eating an apple. You can feel the apple’s texture when you bite the fruit, as well as taste it and its freshness,” Choi said. “The 5.4 Club is aimed at experiencing Korea like tasting the apple rather than just taking a supplement.”

Beltoise emphasized the importance of introducing the world to the Korea of today.

“Korea has changed so much, not only in terms of technology, but in terms of the environment, way of life and hospitality industry compared to when I came here 20 years ago,” he said.

“Now it’s time to come up with more specialized ways, supported by experts, to promote Korea to foreign tourists,” he said.

The 5.4 Club is set to begin with its founding members, including Seo Yu-jin, president of Seoul Museum; Song Seung-whan, CEO of PMC Production; Kim Ock-rang, director of Kokdu Museum; Yoon Yeo-soon, CEO of LG Arts Center; Lucia Cho, president of Bicena, a Korean restaurant; Kim Min-jin, owner and chef of Min’s Kitchen; general managers of the Conrad Seoul Hotel in Yeoido, western Seoul, and Grand Hilton Hotel in central Seoul; and the head of Club Octagon in southern Seoul.

By Park Eun-jee [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]
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