Last year was a significant one for both Korea and Japan, as the two countries saw a combined number of almost 5 million tourists from each other. And tourism ministers from both countries took another step to boost the already blooming tourist industry.
On Monday, the two culture ministries jointly held a declaration ceremony in Seoul to officially launch a year-long project of exchange, ranging from travel and conventions to sports.
This February, the first cultural exchange regarding traditional dance took place in Seoul. Tourism officials, industry leaders and scholars attended the event where ministers from both countries promoted the importance of the project.
Deputy Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Kim Jang-sil said, “I believe this year’s joint projects will greatly contribute to attracting visitors. And as the relations between Korea and Japan deepen, the Northeast Asian community will come together and develop as a whole.”
Ahead of the ceremony, attendees discussed ways to develop sister cities and reviewed successful cases including that of Korea’s Jeonju and Japan’s Kanazawa.
Japan’s Deputy Vice-Minister for Tourism Policy, Honpo Yoshiyaki, said, “It’s important to get to like each other through exchange. For instance, if Jeonju citizens find Japan amiable, then other Koreans could later feel the same way. This kind of sentiment is the core of exchange.”
While both countries aim to attract 10 million tourists by 2012, it seems like Korea may need to take a more active role in promoting cities outside of Seoul and developing better travel packages to pull in what is now a dwindling number of Japanese tourists to Korea.