City, Asiana woo China’s tourism opinion leadersAsiana Airlines and the Seoul Metropolitan Government have joined forces to boost tourism in the city, which is having a hard time attracting foreign tourists due to the Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS) virus.
The nation’s second-largest airline said on Thursday that 100 employees, including Cho Kyu-young, executive director and head of strategic planning, joined Mayor Park Won-soon in a walk through Myeong-dong, one of the city’s tourist attractions. They were joined by about 200 Chinese guests, including 150 tour agency heads, 40 reporters and 10 bloggers invited by the Lotte Hotel and the airline.
Mayor Park was the tour guide, speaking through a microphone for about 40 minutes to introduce Myeong-dong. The tour started at the Myeongdong Theater. “Seoul has many interesting events, including a fireworks festival from July to August, for foreign tourists,” Park said during the tour. “The city is safe to visit just as it used to be and has recovered from MERS.”
According to city government officials, the Chinese visitors seemed relieved that most people in Myeong-dong, including other international tourists, were not wearing masks. The visitors shopped at cosmetic and fashion accessory stores.
Asiana said the group of Chinese will stay in Seoul until Saturday and will tour the Blue House, take a Han River cruise and visit the Lotte World Mall in Jamsil, southern Seoul.
“Chinese tourists are important to the city’s tour industry since 73 percent of the people visiting Seoul are Chinese,” said Cho of Asiana. “I expect to see many Chinese tourists like I used to before the MERS outbreak.”
Local merchants welcomed the visit as well. Noh Mi-sook, head of the Myeongdong Merchants’ Association said, “We are very pleased that the airline is doing such a meaningful thing for the local economy in cooperation with the city government.”
BY KWON SANG-SOO [firstname.lastname@example.org]