People, Travel

S. Korea Expects More Iranian Tourists

S. Korea Expects More Iranian Tourists
S. Korea Expects More Iranian Tourists

One of the main objectives of the South Korean Tourism Organization is enticing Iranian tourists with its many splendours, said Middle East Managing Director of the South Korean tourism organization Kim Kwang Hi, during a specialist meeting, held in Shiraz, attended by Iranian tourism officials and a delegation from South Korea to boost tourism ties between the two countries, IRNA reported.

Kim considers Iran to be one of Korea’s largest tourism markets in the Middle East, having received a record 10,000 Iranian tourists in 2011. He added that most trips take place during the Iranian Nowruz holidays (celebrated for 13 days from March 21), and Iranians mostly vacation with their families.

The official claimed South Korea, “is a country with four-seasons, combining tradition and modernity, offering round-the-clock services like shopping malls and entertainment centers and boasting the world’s largest recreational centers, and one of the world tourism hubs.” He added that the country attracted an approximate 12.5 million foreign travelers in 2013.

“It’s been several years now that we have been working on the Iranian market, and subsidizing travel agencies who bring Iranian tourists has been amongst our strongest initiative.” The official said in case the sanctions are removed, an estimated 30,000 Iranian tourists could be heading to Korea next year.

“The visa process for Iranians is easy and accessible, not more than seven days maximum.  There are three visa offices in Tehran and Shiraz. The embassy is also very cooperative in this regard,” Kim explained.

Han Ye-oki, deputy head of South Korean tourism organization, said Shiraz’ natural and cultural attractions also attract many South Korean tourists annually.

She called the city “a miniature Iran”: Home to the world-famous historical sites of Persepolis, Pasargad; the most prominent sites of Sassanid period; important examples of the Islamic era such as the Shah-e-Cheragh shrine; and tombs of world-renowned poets like Sa’di and Hafiz; splendid handicrafts and great medical tourism potential.

Ye-oki said with this in mind, she hopes to see more Korean tourists coming to Iran, particularly to Shiraz. In discussing the close connection between the two countries, she pointed to their historical roles along the Silk Road.

The tourism cooperation has led to a number of specialized panels to be held to discuss marketing issues.