“2023-2024: Korea-Thailand Embrace the Year of Mutual Visits, Expanding Tourism Exchanges”

Seoul, June 27, 2023 – In celebration of the “Year of Mutual Visits between Korea and Thailand,” the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism (Minister Park Bo-gyun) is partnering with the Korea Tourism Organization (CEO Kim Jang-sil) to host the highly anticipated “2023 Korea-Thailand Tourism Forum.” The forum, scheduled for June 27th at 2:30 PM in Seoul’s prestigious Shilla Hotel Yeongbin Hall, aims to forge strategies for broadening tourism exchanges between the two nations.

Thailand has been the leading ASEAN market for Korean tourists, attracting approximately 570,000 visitors in 2019 before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of this year (2nd week of June 2023), Thailand continues to hold the top spot among ASEAN countries in terms of visitor arrivals to Korea. The recovery of the Thai market, a pivotal player in Southeast Asia, is essential for South Korea’s ambition of achieving 30 million foreign tourists by 2027. In light of this, Korea and Thailand have entered into the “Year of Mutual Visits between Korea and Thailand” agreement, commemorating the 10th anniversary of their strategic partnership. The agreement is set to activate tourism exchanges in key areas such as smart tourism, sports tourism, and gastronomy tourism.

Under the chairmanship of Professor Lee In-jae from Gachon University’s Department of Tourism Management, the forum will showcase a lineup of eminent speakers and engaging discussions. Professor Kamon Butsaban from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand will present on “Strategies for Tourism Industry Development through K-culture.” Weerasak Kowsurat, a distinguished member of the Thai Senate, will share valuable insights on “Thailand’s Post-COVID-19 Tourism Strategy.” Additionally, Lee Jae-ho, Senior Researcher at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, will delve into the significance and direction of the “Year of Mutual Visits between Korea and Thailand.” The forum will be attended by representatives from government agencies, academia, and the tourism industry of both countries. Noteworthy attendees include Kim Sang-wook, Director of the Tourism Industry Policy Division at the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, and Lee Jae-hwan, Deputy CEO of the Korea Tourism Organization. They will be joined by Weerasak Kowsurat, member of the Thai Senate and former Minister of Tourism and Sports, Mongkon Wimonrat, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Tanes Petsuwan, Deputy Director-General of the Tourism Authority of Thailand responsible for Asia and the South Pacific, Nithee Seeprae, Director of Digital Research and Development, and Witchu Vejjajiva, the Thai Ambassador to South Korea. Furthermore, a pre-event called the “Korea-Thailand Travel Mart” will kick off the day at 9:30 AM, bringing together over 50 representatives from the tourism industry of both nations.

To sustain the momentum generated by the forum, a “Korea Tourism Festival” will be held in Bangkok in September and in Chiang Mai in October. These events, aligned with the 10th anniversary of the Korean Cultural Center’s opening in Thailand, will present captivating elements of K-culture, including K-beauty and K-contents, while further solidifying Korea’s position as a formidable force in the global tourism industry.

Moreover, to heighten enthusiasm for the “Year of Mutual Visits between Korea and Thailand” and ignite the desire among Thai individuals to explore Korea, dedicated business-to-business (B2B) trade events will be organized in Phuket and Chiang Mai. These events will foster partnerships among companies in the tourism sector, contributing to the widespread promotion of the bilateral travel initiative.

Director Park Jong-taek from the Tourism Policy Division stated, “Thailand’s emphasis on nurturing its creative cultural industries through the 5F policies of Food, Film, Festival, Fashion, and Fight aligns with Korea’s expanding global presence in K-culture. With this forum as a catalyst, we aim to strengthen our network with Thailand, a key hub for Hallyu in Southeast Asia, and aggressively market the appeal of K-tourism infused with the premium effect of K-culture.”

By Jungchan Lee/Korea Travel News