Annyeong Haseyo!

You might have local channels airing dozens of Koreanovelas on TV, are able to download any piece of information about your favorite Korean stars on the internet, or have danced or listened to Gangnam Style more than you care to admit, but the only real way to appreciate the splendor that is South Korea is to get out there, see it and experience it.

Dubbed as the 'Land of Morning Calm', Korea is a treasure trove of ecological resources, heritage sites, themed and national parks, mountains, islands and beaches. Tourists also come to Korea to enjoy its four seasons: the green shades of spring, the brilliance of summer, the vibrant colors of autumn or the white blankets of winter when the country literally transforms into a winter wonderland.

"Korea is still an introductory travel market for Filipino travelers," shares Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) Manila director Sangyong Zhu. "Korea is very famous to Filipinos because of the drama series and Kpop. A number of affluent travelers have been to or heard about our capital city Seoul, Nami Island and Jeju Island. But the other destinations and tourist sites, they don't know anymore."

White Christmas, Korean style

In terms of Philippine outbound travel market to Korea, there are two peak seasons: the East Holiday season (March to April) and the Christmas-New Year holiday seasons. According to Zhu, it is now almost impossible to find available air seats to Korea from December 23 until the end of the year. "The flights are so full, it's incredible. This means there are now so many Filipino travelers, especially families, who visit Korea to celebrate Christmas and New Year," Zhu beams.

"There's no snow in the Philippines so it's really very enticing for travelers to hop on a four-hour flight to Korea to experience the quintessential White Christmas," shares Hye-Jin Jang, marketing coordinator of KTO-Manila. "The activities Filipinos love doing in Korea during winter are skiing, snowboarding and sledding in our various ski resorts in Gyeonggi-do and Gangwon-do, which are both just an hour drive from Incheon International Airport."

And after spending the whole day playing in the snow, Filipinos also frequent hot springs and spas to relax. For kids and kids at heart, Lotte World's Indoor theme park and Everland Safari are always a must-visit.

Thanks to the worldwide phenomenon that is Gangnam Style, named after the popular and über fashionable Gangnam district (which literally means 'south of the river'), KTO has been developing more Gangnam style tours and winter packages to the district referred as the 'Rodeo Drive' of Korea.

Bringing Korea to more Filipinos

To further promote Korea's winter travel packages, KTO together with the Korean Cultural Center, recently held a two-day Korea Winter Travel Fair at the Ice Skating Rink of SM Mall of Asia where popular ski resorts from Korea came over to introduce their winter facilities complete with amazing ski demonstrations. The event also intends to encourage travel agencies to promote and sell more Korean winter packages to travel buyers.

"KTO is a non-profit government agency, we're not supposed to sell our own packages so the travel agents are our true lifeline," says Zhu. "Our job is to promote Korea and make strong connections with Philippine outbound travel agents, airlines and the media. That's why we're very thankful to the Department of Tourism (DoT) especially to Assistant Secretary and Tourism Promotions Board COO Domingo Ramon Enerio III, for all his support in introducing us to the travel agents and backing our promotion efforts."

In 2011, 337,268 Filipinos visited Korea with a 13.4 percent growth rate. But according to Zhu, only 20 percent or 68,000 of the arrivals are leisure travelers, a far cry from the 1 million Korean tourists who visited the Philippines last year.

"The Philippines is the 5th tourist market for Korea and it is still growing. That's why the KTO decided to open its first office here in Manila on May 30 of this year. We want to reach out to more Filipinos in promoting our country and provide a wider range of prices to make Korea a more affordable destination for everyone," Zhu says.

From January to October of this year, 53,228 Filipinos traveled to Korea with a 19 percent growth rate compared to 44,555 arrivals during the same period in 2011. Zhu is optimistic that these numbers will double next year due to the strong economy of the Philippines and the scores of international events to be held in Korea in 2013 like the Korean Grand Prix, Korean Traditional Medicine Expo and the World Garden Expo.


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Sandigan OKs hospital stay for GMA co-accused
    Sandigan OKs hospital stay for GMA co-accused

    The Sandiganbayan has allowed a government official, accused with plunder along with former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to undergo a medical procedure at a hospital tomorrow. The anti-graft court permitted former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board member Benigno Aguas to undergo a cardiopulmonary/endocrine clearance at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City. …

  • Appeal for convicted Pinay in Indonesia continues – Palace

    The Aquino government is doing everything possible to save a Filipina facing execution in Indonesia for drug smuggling, a Palace official said yesterday.Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the government was moving within Indonesia’s legal framework to spare Mary Jane Veloso from death.Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario continues to exhaust all legal avenues to save Veloso from execution, Valte said.The Indonesian Supreme Court on Wednesday denied the government’s …

  • Sandigan recommends executive clemency for ex-envoy
    Sandigan recommends executive clemency for ex-envoy

    The Sandiganbayan has recommended executive clemency for a former Philippine ambassador to Nigeria who was sentenced to 52 years for malversation of public funds. The Sandiganbayan First Division found Masaranga Umpa guilty of misusing the Assistance-To-Nationals Stand-by Funds totaling $80,478.80 in 2007, but the anti-graft court said the former assemblyman from Lanao del Norte should be pardoned. …

  • Bulacan, Bataan are top Lenten destinations

    MALOLOS, Bulacan – With the expected Holy Week exodus of Catholic devotees to various pilgrimage sites in Bulacan, Bataan and other provinces near Metro Manila, local and provincial officials have coordinated with security and emergency response teams to address the influx of visitors.Among the pilgrimage sites in Bulacan that are often visited by travelers are the Divine Mercy Shrine in the town of Marilao; the procession of saints in Baliwag; the Banal na Bundok with the Stations of the Cross …

  • Stargazing at the mall highlights Earth Hour
    Stargazing at the mall highlights Earth Hour

    It was a night of stargazing in 58 SM Supermalls all over the country last night as these establishments participated in Earth Hour, an annual worldwide movement encouraging communities and establishments to switch off lights for one hour to raise global awareness of overuse of non-renewable resources. The Philippines has been an active participant of Earth Hour since 2008. Last night, in the province of Bulacan, for instance, all parishes, diocesan institutions, schools and household …

  • Payanig privatization hit
    Payanig privatization hit

    BLEMP Commercial of the Philippines, Inc. (BLEMP) denounced the recent announcement of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to privatize the 18.4-hectare “Payanig sa Pasig” property. In a statement sent to The STAR , BLEMP lawyer Dennis Manalo said the PCGG has no right to auction the property because it has no valid title and is not in possession. The PCGG has not paid a single centavo in real property taxes for the property, he said. He narrated that it was in the early …

  • New species of tarantula found
    New species of tarantula found

    Scientists from the Museum of Natural History (MNH) of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños have discovered a new species of cave-dwelling tarantula on an island off the coast of Quezon. The new species of the spider, Phlogiellus kwebaburdeos, was described in the recent issue of the Philippine Journal of Systematic Biology by MNH curators for spiders Aimee Lynn Dupo and Alberto Barrion along with their former student Joseph Rasalan. The tarantula was discovered by Rasalan during …

  • Palm Sunday: Do not add to suffering of others
    Palm Sunday: Do not add to suffering of others

    As Christendom enters Holy Week today, Palm Sunday, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday called on the faithful not to add to the sufferings of their fellowmen. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (ECPA), said that while Palm Sunday is oftentimes remembered as the glorious arrival of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, it also signals the start of the Holy Week that tells of His suffering, death and …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options