North Korea’s attack has no effect on tourism


SEOUL (eTN)- International meeting industry representatives at Korea MICE Expo 2010 looked undeterred by North Korea’s attack on Yeongpyeong Island located west of the Korean Peninsula. “The violence of the attack and the unfortunate death of civilians were seen here as a surprising move from the North Korean leadership. Unfortunately, skirmishes between the North and the South are nothing new and we have experienced many of them after the end of the Korean war. Any change in the leadership of North Korea, any big event organized in the south is generally accompanied by a reaction from Pyongyang; just to show to the South that they are here!” explained Maureen O’Crowley, Senior Director MICE marketing Tours at Seoul Convention Bureau.

Asked if the events could threaten Seoul’s safety, Samuel Koo, President & CEO of Seoul Tourism, is more than reassuring. “The situation is already getting back to the normal. We are used to live with this permanent confrontation between the South and the North. And this is likely to continue for a long time but has no consequence for Seoul. We remain a welcoming global destination opened to the world,” he said. His vision is also shared by Martin Sirk, CEO of ICCA, the International Congress and Convention Association. “I frankly do not see any consequence of the recent attack. Seoul is considered as a safe haven for most meeting planners. However, this could be a different story for individual travelers coming on a leisure basis,” he analyzed.

Korea MICE Expo 2010 closed its doors on Thursday evening with 250 buyers attending the event. In 2009, 7.82 million of visitors came to Korea, a growth of 13.4% over 2008. For the first nine months of 2010, Korea total visitors grew again by 12.7%. And over the last two days, both the Korean stock exchange index and the won regained lost ground following Wednesday attack. A sign of confidence!