|Oh Sinan Ozturk, founder and chairman of the Global Business Alliance (GBA), appears on the screen at a conference announcing Seoul's tourist vision, held at Some Sevit Floating Island, Sept. 12. Courtesy of Bereket Alemayehu|
By Bereket Alemayehu
Foreign participants operating tour and travel companies were among those attending a ceremony proclaiming Seoul's Tourism Future Vision plan to attract 30 million visitors by 2026, held at Some Sevit Floating Island, Sept. 12.
One of the three speakers giving a "talk concert" during the event was Oh Sinan Ozturk, founder and chairman of Kervan Group. He is also founder and chairman of the Global Business Alliance (GBA), a unique nonprofit business organization established under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. The GBA provides a platform for Korean and foreign entrepreneurs along with diplomats and trade counselors, startups and startup traders from over 64 countries.
"My talk was focusing on how foreigners who live in Korea can help in promoting the Korean tourism sector and how important is their involvement if opportunities are provided," he told The Korea Times. "The number of foreigners chasing the Korean dream is now estimated at about 2.5 million, which in 10 years will reach up to 4 million. So, it's very important to accept them as a part of Korea's diverse and multicultural community."
He added that the GBA includes people from diverse backgrounds, both Korean and foreign, who are corporate executives, diplomats and trade counselors, startup founders and startup traders, global influencers, artists, YouTubers and content developers who are interested to engage with the city's tourism plan.
"I would like to deliver that important message that because we live in Korea, we know the country well, so foreign residents' engagement is important," he said.
"It would be vital in attracting the targeted 30 million visitors to Seoul as well as making great efforts to pave the way for World Busan Expo 2030 together, as many foreigners are doing travel and tourism business here."
He recommended the city place more focus on the medical tourism industry to attract more visitors from around the world.
Ozturk also offered ways to utilize foreign influencers and international students living in the city by appointing them as ambassadors for Seoul tourism. In addition, he suggested the need for more methods to be used to collect tourists' experiences and opinions.
|Abubaker Siddique, chairman of Prime Group, poses at a conference announcing Seoul's tourist vision, held at Some Sevit Floating Island, Sept. 12. Courtesy of Bereket Alemayehu|
Also speaking at one of the talk concerts was Abubaker Siddique, chairman for Prime Group, a business company based in Korea which includes the travel company Prime Travel. He has been in the tourism and travel business for 17 years, providing tour plans and hotel services with offices in Korea, Malaysia and Bangladesh.
"This conference was important to us because there were a series of lectures I attended related to travel and tourism contents, how to make attractive contents captivate tourists to come to Korea," he said. "As I remember, for example, BTS had a concert which attracted thousands of fans to come to Korea. These kinds of pinpoints greatly help us to work strategically in crafting our tour and travel packages and products to sell to other countries. As a promotional ambassador for the Seoul Tourism Association, today's Seoul Tourist Declaration is highly appreciable."
Indian businessman Santosh Gupta, founder of Dynasty Holidays, a company specialized in curating experiences tailored to Indian travelers with unique preferences and interests, said the biggest challenge he faces is not having enough vegetarian restaurants in Seoul. "I am currently handling groups of visitors from India," he said. "In many restaurants getting enough space is difficult, because of their limited capacity. For example Indian restaurants in Seoul are mostly small sized compared to the visitors coming to Korea, max capacity is about 60-70 people."
Therefore, for foreign businesspeople like Siddique and Gupta, working with the city is important in many aspects to improve the tourism sector so the city can meet its goal of attracting 30 million visitors.
Bereket Alemayehu is an Ethiopian photo artist, social activist and writer based in Seoul. He's also co-founder of Hanokers, a refugee-led social initiative, and freelance contributor for Pressenza Press Agency. Visit photopatternist.com for more information.