SEOUL, March 28 (Korea Bizwire) – Diversifying South Korea’s repertoire of visitors amid continued threats from China, the Korea Tourism Organization is planning to attract 1.2 million tourists from Muslim countries this year, up from what was roughly 980,000 in 2016.
Last year’s number was a 33-percent increase from 2015. Of the visitors, 740,000 were from Asia, largely Malaysians and Indonesians; 160,000 were from countries in the Middle East; and 80,000 came from other regions including the Americas and Africa.
The KTO is hoping to achieve a new milestone by building more halal restaurants in the country.
The project, dubbed Muslim Friendly Korea, will bring up the number of Muslim-friendly restaurants to 170 from 135. Four certifications for halal restaurants here exist – halal certified, self-certified, Muslim friendly, and pork-free. Owners can apply to the KTO (www.mfrk.or.kr) to have their restaurant officially recognized as a halal-friendly venue.
The organization started receiving new applications on Monday, a process that will continue until April 28, and will hold information sessions across the country during the period.
It also published a handbook to better host Muslim tourists for local governments and the tourism industry that includes information on the Muslim tourism market, halal foods, prayer rooms, and emerging trends in Islamic countries.
Throughout the year, the KTO will operate business-to-business consulting booths for local tourism companies at exhibitions and international fairs, including the Middle East International Exhibition planned for April, and the Indonesia Islamic Expo in October.
In September, the organization will host the Halal Restaurant Week to promote Korean-style halal food for Muslim visitors, with food tasting events and cooking sessions with Muslim chefs.
“We’re more desperate than ever to find new markets,” said Park Jung-ha, the KTO’s international marketing director. “We’ll bring up the number of Muslim tourists to 1.2 million this year to help diversify Korea’s tourism industry.”
By Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)