FKI wants mountain development

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FKI wants mountain development

The Federation of Korean Industries called on the government to ease regulations on the development of mountainous areas in the country to help boost the economy.

About 64 percent of Korea’s land is mountainous, but numerous regulations have prevented the country from developing a world-class mountain tourism program, the FKI said in a proposal letter sent to the National Assembly and related government agencies.

The regulation has also impeded the development of industries involved in mountaineering, with the exception of the market for hiking clothing and gear, it said.

The FKI suggested that the government allow cable cars to be set up inside national parks in the country. Similar suggestions have been made before, but they have never been endorsed by the national park committee under the Ministry of Environment, which is opposed to the idea partly because of the effect it could have on the environment and also out of safety concerns.

There are 21 national parks in Korea, all of which are managed by the Korea National Park Service, which is also under the Ministry of Environment.

“If mountainous tourism is invigorated, it will sharply increase the demand for services regarding mountaineering activities, and will contribute to the regional economy as well as related industries,” said Yoo Hwan-ik, the head of the FKI’s industrial research division.

The FKI also called for lodging facilities to be permitted near mountain peaks or cliffs.

The Korea National Park Service has a very limited number of lodging facilities in national parks and there is stiff competition, close to 100 to 1, to find a place to stay there.

Even if a person is able to secure the room, he or she can’t sleep comfortably there due to the small space allotted. It also suggested that the government designate a special zone for mountainous tourism.

In the letter, the FKI said Aso Farm Land in Japan could be a model for Korea’s mountainous tourism program. The area, which opened in 1995 in Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture, attracts more than 4.4 million visitors every year.

The FKI also cited several European villages with a population of less than 20,000 that are attracting more than 1 million visitors each year, such as Shamony in France, Zermatt in Switzerland and Bad Worishofen in Germany.

BY MOON GWANG-LIP [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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