Korea announces plan to attract 1 million foreign cruise tourists by 2027

Korea on Monday unveiled a comprehensive strategy aimed at significantly boosting its cruise tourism sector by attracting 1 million foreign visitors by 2027.
Chinese tourists enter Busan aboard the Blue Dream Melody cruise ship, June 12. Yonhap
Chinese tourists enter Busan aboard the Blue Dream Melody cruise ship, June 12. (Source: Yonhap)

This ambitious plan, announced by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, includes major upgrades to both the country's infrastructure and cruise-related services, according to a joint press release.

The strategy comes as the nation experiences a resurgence in cruise tourism, with 273,817 visitors recorded in 2023, surpassing the pre-pandemic figure of 267,381 in 2019.

Central to the plan is the construction of a new cruise pier at the Saemangeum New Port in Gunsan, a reclaimed wetland on the southwestern coast, and a new international passenger terminal at Mukho Port on the east coast by next year.

In a bid to improve the quality of existing services, the government will extend the operating hours of cruise terminals, introduce pop-up markets, and enhance traveler conveniences with 24-hour unmanned currency exchange facilities.

The two ministries also aim to create distinct identities for seven major ports. For instance, Incheon will be developed as an "airport-linked fly-and-cruise port city" for housing Korea's main gateway, Incheon International Airport.

Sokcho, where the scenic Mount Sorak is located, will be promoted as a city renowned for mountain trekking.

The plan also emphasizes the development of specialized tourism programs tailored to international visitors.

"The government will attract foreign tourists to various Korean regions with diverse charms by activating cruise-linked local tourism," Jang Mi-ran, vice minister of culture, said in a press release.

She pledged close inter-governmental cooperation and comprehensive support for the tourism industry.

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(Source: Korea Times)