Korea aims to cultivate local festivals into internationally renowned tourism attractions

The government has selected three local festivals - Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival, Suwon Hwaseong Cultural Festival and Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival - to develop into global tourism events as part of its three-year project aimed at doubling the number of inbound visitors and accelerating the regional economy.
Korea aims to cultivate local festivals into internationally renowned tourism attractions
Performers in Korean traditional costume display martial arts skills during the Suwon Hwaseong Cultural Festival in this undated photo. Courtesy of Gyeonggi Provincial Government

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) said Thursday that a global festival council will be formed to work with organizers of the three festivals and unfold a strategic marketing campaign overseas by the end of 2026.

The government will provide each festival with 660 million won ($500,780) this year and launch their international showcases.

The Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival is a leading music festival that annually hosts some 50 renowned acts from Korea and overseas. The western port city boasts accommodation facilities and transport accessibility, which served as the festival’s winning factors in the selection.

The ministry aims to develop the festival into a Korean version of South by Southwest, a renowned global event in Austin, Texas, that initially started as a local music festival and developed into a global conference and festivals converging various fields of creative arts.

In that regard, the festival will invite music fans from overseas and showcase conferences with figures from the international music industry to become a global platform introducing Korean music to a wider audience, the ministry explained.

The Suwon Hwaseong Cultural Festival demonstrates the history, tradition, arts and culture of the 1391-1910 Joseon Dynasty around Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the center of Suwon, Gyeonggi Province.

The festival topped the list of Korea’s local festivals in awareness and favorability in the KTO survey, with its multilingual guide system around the World Heritage site acclaimed among foreign travelers.

The ministry will leverage the city’s emerging gastronomic scene, shopping infrastructure and K-drama filming locations to target young, trend-sensitive independent travelers aged between 20 and 40.

The Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, a world-renowned annual ice fishing festival, will be developed into a Korean winter experience tour program for family travelers from Southeast Asia and the Middle East, where snow is rare.

Listed as one of the world’s seven wonders of winter by CNN in 2011, the festival attracted 1.31 million domestic and international visitors with 86.5 billion won in tourism expenditures last year in Hwacheon, a small county in Gangwon Province.

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(Source: Korea Times)