MANILA, Philippines—Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) and Gangwon-do Tourism formally opened the Korea Winter Travel Fair last Sept. 16 to 17 at Glorietta Activity Center, Makati City.
Fair-goers experienced a wonderful winter-themed Korean expedition, while at the same time scored exclusive air tickets and travel packages featuring a myriad of tourist attractions in Gangwon Province, South Korea.
To encourage more Filipinos to visit South Korea’s eastern province, actor and TV host Ryan Bang was recently appointed as Honorary Ambassador for Gangwon Tourism last Sept. 15 at a press conference. Meanwhile, Sue Ramirez remains as South Korea’s Honorary Ambassador for Tourism since her appointment late last year.
With just a few months before the much-awaited 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games, The Philippine STAR sits down with Gangwon-do Governor Moon-soon Choi as he briefly shares how tourists can enjoy Gangwon-do and how they are preparing for the upcoming Olympic Games.
For interested tourists, why is Gangwon-do considered a must-visit South Korean destination during its winter season?
It’s located in the northern part of the South Korean peninsula and 60 percent of Gangwon-do is covered in mountainous areas. The unique terrain and climate allows for heavier snowfall which doesn’t melt away too quickly. The blanket of snow is quite beautiful and many tourists come here to enjoy the picturesque “winter wonderland” atmosphere. While Seoul and Busan, two of South Korea’s most-visited cities, are busy metropolitan areas, Gangwon-do showcases the true beauty of Korean nature which is only further accentuated during the winter season.
There are also big Ice Festivals and Ice Fishing Festivals held in Pyeongchang and Hwacheon during this time of year.
How many tourists are we expecting next year at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics?
We are going to be issuing 100 million for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. There’s also going to be various reporters, tourists and other visitors so we assume we’re going to get around 200 million people during the duration of the games.
How does Gangwon-do and Seoul intend to address any accommodation and hotel concerns by next year?
We’ve recently opened several hotels in the surrounding area but it still may not be enough to accommodate all international visitors. In this regard, there’s also going be a new direct train railway connecting Seoul to Gangneung City in Gangwon-do. With construction almost finished, the new railway will be in operation by the end of December this year.
This way, visitors have the option of vying for accommodation in either Gangwon-do or in Seoul, which will be just about an hour away from Pyeongchang with the new railway.
Security-wise, what measures will Gangwon-do take to ensure the safety of tourists?
Gangwon is the safest province in South Korea. We’ve never experienced any sort of terrorist activity or riots at all. Nevertheless, there’s going to be 200,000 police and security forces employed to swiftly handle all security issues. All are experienced in safety drills and there is absolutely nothing to be worried about.
Is there anything you’d like to say to Filipinos who will be visiting Gangwon-do next year?
Personally, I think the Philippines and South Korea are the best tandem together, tourism-wise. When Koreans want to escape the chilly temperatures in their country, Philippines is often among their travel destinations for the nice and warm climate. On the other hand, Filipinos prefer to experience colder weather when traveling and Gangwon is an ideal destination for that. I’m definitely expecting the tourists between these two countries to increase a lot by next year, especially with the Filipinos visiting the Winter Olympic Games.