In the "The Reinvention of Korea and Thailand in Creative Economy and Tourism" seminar held by The Nation newspaper and Federation of Thai Tourism Associations (Fetta), Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO) president Charm Lee said that Korea has potential to become the premium destinations for tourists who would like to recharge their energy.
"The travelling cost in Korea is lower than Japan and Europe . Therefore, the main challenge is how to make Korea more attractive and have higher value," he said.
To promote Korea 's tourism, the international cooperation is very important. He said that he was initiating a new kind of holiday culture, which will allow Korean people to take at least 15 days off.
"The cultural change will make them extend their stay in abroad including Thailand longer than a few days as before," he said.
However, he said one of the big problems is to make the government understand the importance of tourism industry.
The annual turnover from tourism industry in Korea is around US$9.2 billion, but the marketing budget for 2010 is only US$40 million. Although the marketing budget next year will be US$10 million higher than this year, it makes up for only 0.2 per cent of the entire turnover.
"We can spend 10 times of what we are doing now if the government wants to promote tourism seriously," he said.
Charm Lee is the first foreigner who is appointed to be the president of KTO. He was German since he was born until he changed to hold Korean nationality in 1986. Apart from his ability and knowledge in both east and west culture, Korean government also expects that he will represent its vision that wants to open the country and boost the investment from foreigners.
Meanwhile, Tourism and Sports Ministry permanent secretary Sasithara Pichaichannarong said Thailand has very high potential for promoting the spa and wellness tourism.
Moreover, under the creative economy scheme, it will also develop and promote the village-based and community-based tourism for attracting more Thai and foreign tourists.
She said it targets to attract 14 million visitors to Thailand . However, it could achieve only 12.5 million visitors in the first 11 months, down 7.3 per cent from the same period last year. She said it expects 1.5 million visitors in December this year.
"We are optimistic that the number of foreign tourists in 2010 will be higher than this year that the number of tourists fell because of the economic crisis and the country's political chaos. More importantly, the tourists are more favor to travel in the shorter distance after the economic crisis, so we will focus more on promoting Thailand's tourism in Asia such as China, Japan, Malaysia, and Korea," she said.
The most important thing to bring the tourists back is the government's stimulus package.
"The government should consider approving the budget for waiving the visa fee, landing fee, and subsidizing the hotel's discount," she said.
To promote Thailand 's tourism in Korea , she said it is trying to increase the number of Thai guides who can communicate in Korean language. Around 800,000-900,000 Korean tourists visit Thailand each year, she added.
Meanwhile, deputy commerce minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot said that the government's creative economy policy will boost the country's economic growth. Korea for instance succeeds in making added value from its culture.
"Tourism business is a part of creative economy that will drive Thailand to be sustainable economy," he said.