May 24, 2024
  • By Tsai Tsung-hsun
    and Jason Pan / Staff reporters

As tourism between Taiwan and South Korea grows, the two countries are targeting a combined 3 million reciprocal visits this year, officials said at a meeting in Chiayi County last month.

Taiwan hosted the 37th annual Taiwan-Korea Tourism Exchange Conference at the Chiayi Evergreen Palace Hotel in Taibao City on April 25, and announced that 113,192 South Koreans had visited the nation in January.

That was 91 percent of the number recorded over the same period in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan Visitors Association (TVA) chairwoman Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) said.

Photo: Tsai Tsung-hsun, Taipei Times

More of Taiwan’s tourists came from South Korea than any other country in January, while 92,806 Taiwanese traveled to South Korea that month, so the tourism industry is heating up in both countries, said Yeh, a former minister of transportation and communications.

Last year, 1.7 million Taiwanese and South Koreans traveled to each other’s countries, about 70 percent of the number recorded before the pandemic, Yeh said.

The conference was organized by the TVA and Korea Association of Travel Agents (KATA) to coordinate on tourism issues, promote cooperation within the industry and set up a communication platform, as well as to discuss new sales and marketing trends, transportation upgrades, and how to grow tourist numbers in both countries, officials said.

South Korea had 79 delegates at this year’s conference, including KATA chairman Henry Oh, Korean Mission in Taipei Deputy Director Choi Bong-gyu, South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism officer Kim Sung-mi.

Taiwan has 134 participants, including Yeh, Tourism Administration Director-General Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) and Chiayi County Deputy Commissioner Liu Pei-tung (劉培東).

In her address, Yeh thanked the visiting delegation for attending after the massive earthquake on April 3, which measured 7.2 on the Richter scale.

“We are grateful to South Koreans for supporting Taiwan by coming here to discuss and exchange ideas on tourism issues and new policies,” she said. “We can see that Taiwan and South Korea have a similar society… that both countries are facing a low-birthrate situation, and becoming super-aged societies. Therefore we are holding in-depth discussions on these issues.”

“Both sides are sharing their experiences when visiting each other’s countries, making adjustments to tourism programs,” she added.

The UN Tourism organization has released a forecast for this year’s global tourism trends, saying that people still prefer to travel regionally, and with flights between Taiwan and South Korea taking less than three hours, both sides are expected to see growth, Yeh said.

Oh said the conference, which was launched in 1979, has been an important engine driving the tourism and hospitality sectors in Taiwan and South Korea.

KATA and TVA have forged a close relationship, much like brothers, he added.

“South Koreans have a good impression of Taiwanese as being kind and friendly… It has been enjoyable for our delegation to come to Chiayi County and have productive talks at this conference,” Oh said.

“We also look forward to reaching the combined 3 million reciprocal visits for both sides — the target that we set in 2019,” Oh said.

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