Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thailand's Korean festival should boost tourism

CHADAMAS CHINMANEEVONG

Tourism between Thailand and Korea is expected to receive a major boost next month with the staging of the Korean Festival 2008 in Bangkok.

The 100-million-baht festival would promote tourism between two countries, improve the tourism image of Thailand among Korean people and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Thai-South Korean relationship, said Hong Ji-Hee, managing director of Korea Thailand Communication Center Co (KTCC).

The event will be held from Oct 10-12 at Siam Paragon with around 30 exhibitors taking part. KTCC has organised the festival along with the Embassy of Korea, the Thai Tourism and Sport Ministry and the Korea Association of Thailand.

"We will invite VIP guests such as Korean superstars and singers to visit and join some activities," said Ms Hong.

"Their arrival will help boost confidence of Korean tourists about travelling to Thailand after some had cancelled trips due to political turmoil."

She said Thai tourists would also learn more about South Korea, its original culture and lifestyle in addition to the K-Pop singers and Korean TV series that are already very popular here.

The event will also offer some opportunities to aspiring singers and dancers aged between 13 and 25 years old to participate in a Korean star audition.

Entertainment companies, such as JYP Entertainment, the producer of well-known artists including Rain, Wonder Girls and Nichkhun, will be represented at the fair.

KTCC expects around 150,000 visitors, 40,000 or whom would be Koreans.

"If we receive positive feedback from the event, we may continue to organise it again next year," Ms Hong said.

KTCC was established in 2002. Its main business is handling music, television and film copyrights for Korean stars and artists. It also has an inbound travel service and provides Korean translators.

Ms Hong predicted that the travel agent business would contribute 70% of total revenues by 2011, up from 50% this year, and the remaining 30% would come from the entertainment business.

"The tourism business, both inbound and outbound, has high potential to grow, particularly agricultural and incentive tourism," she said.

She expects that total Korean tourist arrivals to Thailand would increase by 10% this year, from 1.2 million last year. Total Thai tourist arrivals to Korea would grow by 30% from 124,000 last year.

"I want to see more trading between Korea and Thailand apart from the tourism and entertainment businesses because the countries can be big markets for each other," she said.

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